“Unions were anathema to them simply because human labor was one of the few cost items that could be manipulated and lowered.”. Workers in this area, as with many coal towns, have fought for rights over decades. The second would force the EPA to stop stalling on mining permits.” Reid objected to McConnell’s motion and the Senate moved to other business. Steve Demoss, who was …. There have not been union mines in Eastern Kentucky for decades, but the speeches allude to the old labor wars in Harlan County. While miners shot at their opponents, private planes organized by the coal companies’ defensive militia dropped bleach and shrapnel bombs on the union’s headquarters. 2001: Natural gas prices increase over 50% in one year. . Website: http://www.lboissoneault.com/, Continue Reid kills vote to stop ‘war on coal’ (Daily Caller), “Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has killed an effort by his Republican counterpart Minority Leader Mitch McConnell to pass a bill that would prevent the Obama administration from issuing regulations that burden the coal industry. McConnell asked for unanimous consent to pass the “Saving Coal Jobs Act,” but was blocked by Reid who objected.”, Grimes, McConnell spar on coal issues (CNHI), The association with Reid doesn’t escape notice in the coal fields, said Bill Bissett, president of the Kentucky Coal Association. According to one version of the story, the Baldwin-Felts agents tried to arrest Hatfield when he attempted to prevent the evictions from taking place. Advertising Notice They struggled to survive, and often times developed Black Lung due to coal dust. As Kentucky’s WFPL reported earlier this year, coal production in Kentucky is already at the lowest levels in the past half century even before these new regulations. “Your Clean Water Act, your Clean Air Act … People have been led to believe that coal is bad.” And utilities are responding to the impending regulations. And even today, that battle rages on—perhaps not with bullets, but with eroding regulations and workers’ rights. The incidents involved coal miners and union organizers on one side, and coal firms and law enforcement officials on the other. Senior Director, Beyond Coal Campaign, Sierra Club. Director, Program on Energy and Sustainable Development, Stanford . For miners, the system resembled something like feudalism. This fight between collectivism and individualism, the rights of the worker and the rights of the owner, have been part of America since the country’s founding, Bailey says. “This was a romanticized version of events, creating an Old West type image of Appalachia. McConnell’s Kentucky Coal Politics Play Out on Senate Floor (Roll Call). “It’s just the latest administration salvo in its never ending war on coal–a war against the very people who provide power and energy for our country,” Sen. McConnell said. When the mayor defended Hatfield from the arrest, he was shot, and more bullets began to fly. A coal industry leader had already raised doubts about Grimes being a more effective voice for Kentucky coal operators and miners than McConnell. kentucky.com - Bill Estep. The combination of perilous working conditions and miner-guard tensions led to a massive strike in 1912 in southern West Virginia (Matewan sits on the state’s southern border with Kentucky). It seems like we’re starting to turn the clock back.”, Lorraine Boissoneault is a contributing writer to SmithsonianMag.com covering history and archaeology. Brian Yu. The museum is one of the only surviving testaments to the struggles of the state’s coal miners in the early 20 th century – a labor story that Wilma believes more people ought to know. Nowhere is this more evident than in the Bluegrass State of Kentucky where Democrat Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes is desperately trying, with little success, to distance herself from President Obama and her anti-coal Senate leader, Harry Reid. When Hatfield was acquitted in a local trial by jury, Felts brought a conspiracy charge against him, forcing the police chief to appear in court once more. “I cannot support Binz’s nomination as the next chairman of FERC. “Following World War I, there was an increasing concentration into fewer hands of industrial corporate power,” says Bailey. Coal Wars tells the fateful story. As the years progressed, the union distanced itself even further from the Matewan massacre. Their workplaces became war zones, and gun battles once punctuated union protests. After five months, things came to a head when 6,000 union miners declared their intention to kill company guards and destroy company equipment. Privacy Statement The coal company is waiting to hear its fate as the bankruptcy case wraps up. PAID FOR BY THE REPUBLICAN PARTY OF KENTUCKY. The coal industry was essentially the state’s sole source of work, and massive corporations built homes, general stores, schools, churches and recreational facilities in the remote towns near the mines. The gunfight in downtown Matewan on May 19, 1920, had all the elements of a high-noon showdown: on one side, the heroes, a pro-union sheriff and mayor; on the other, the dastardly henchmen of the Baldwin-Felts Detective Agency. Martin cites the failure of the Employee Free Choice Act to pass in Congress (which was aimed at removing barriers to unionization), the closure of the last union coal mine in Kentucky in 2015, the loss of retirement benefits for former miners, and the surge in black lung disease as evidence of unions’ fading power. Hazard, Kentucky, a town hard-hit from coal-mining closings, is struggling to employ its out-of-work coal miners through a mix of local, state, federal and private programs. all but one were acquitted of treason charges, The True History Behind Netflix's 'The Dig' and Sutton Hoo, Amateur Treasure Hunter Unearths Missing Centerpiece of Henry VIII's Crown, Archaeologists Unearth 600-Year-Old Golden Eagle Sculpture at Aztec Temple, Forgotten 20th-Century Photography Studio Found in New York Attic, Newly Unearthed I.D. Joe Manchin, a Democrat from West Virginia, another coal-rich state, on Wednesday said he would not vote for Binz. Here a group of miners face soldiers in Harlan County in 1939. Coal wars in Kentucky, cont'd. Speakers. U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell squared off with Democratic U.S. Sen. Harry Reid over McConnell’s Saving Coal Jobs Act on the Senate floor Thursday morning. McConnell read the bill on the floor of the Senate and asked for unanimous consent to pass the legislation, which McConnell described as a combination of two previous bills that remain bottled in committee. “The bill would essentially repeal the administrations deceleration of war against coal,” McConnell said. The Obama administration and Harry Reid have declared a ‘war on coal’ in Kentucky, putting national Democrats on defense and Alison Lundergan Grimes in a tough, ‘awkward’ spot. Below are this morning’s top headlines on the issue. But for Terry Steele, a former coal miner in West Virginia and member of the local UMWA, revolting was the only way to respond to abuse. “The things our forefathers stood for are now being taken away from us. Historically, 56 of the 120 counties in Kentucky have recorded direct coal employment. HARLAN COUNTy, KY - When Dan Mosley became head of Kentucky's Harlan County government this year, he promised - like those elected before him - to defend the state's beleaguered coal industry. Kentucky Coal Miners Striking To Demand Missing Wages End Their Protest In Pike County, Ky., coal miners blocked a railroad track, demanding to be paid wages they said they were owed. Did Richard III Kill the Princes in the Tower? As labor historian Hoyt N. Wheeler writes, “Firing men for union activities, beating and arresting union organizers, increasing wages to stall the union’s organizational drive, and a systematic campaign of terror produced an atmosphere in which violence was inevitable.” The mine guards of Baldwin-Felts Detective Agency repeatedly shut down miners’ attempts at unionization with everything from drive-by assaults of striking miners to forcing men, women and children out of their homes. The Loyal Land Company formed around 1750 and Dr. Walker went to Kentucky in search of coal, which he found and used it to heat his camp fire. Grimes’ effort to speak out this week actually achieved the exact opposite goal – Kentucky Coal Association President Bill Bissett quickly and publicly credited her opponent, Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell, for being the industry’s chief supporter on Capitol Hill. Cookie Policy Conflicting labor alliances turn coal miners and their families against each other—a heated, violent battle that unleashes enduring bitterness. He’s one of the miners who will be losing his health insurance and retirement plan in the wake of his employer’s bankruptcy. 17th Annual Photo Contest Finalists Announced. In 1932 the writers completed their report which was published by Harcourt, Brace & Company under the title Harlan Miners Speak: Report on Terrorism in the Kentucky Coal Fields. 47.7 million tons of Kentucky production. As wealth consolidated after the war, says historian Rebecca Bailey, the author of Matewan Before the Massacre, unions found themselves in the crosshairs. “When President Obama declared war on coal, Sen. McConnell stood strong defending our communities,” White wrote. Russian coal is not an option for coking coal, so this only leaves Canada and the US - neither are currently on better terms with China than Australia. As the rich mine owners got richer, union-organized strikes became a way for miners to protect their salaries. That same day, the town of Matewan was teeming with a number of unemployed miners who came to receive a few dollars, sacks of flour and other foodstuffs from the union to prevent their families from starving. The case against Armstrong Coal started in June 2014 when Justin Greenwell, who ran a roof-bolting machine at Parkway, had his wife call the tipline at the U.S. Republicans in Kentucky are committed to putting Kentucky back on the right track by advocating common sense, conservative principles and working to elect Republicans at every level of government. No one knows who fired the first shot but when it was over four were dead—three deputies and one miner– with several more wounded. 25 Photos of Kentucky Coal Camps During the 1930s and 1940s. “[Unions] became so dependent on federal labor laws and the National Labor Relations Board that they lived and died by what the federal government would allow them to do,” Martin says. However, we were also home to many other coal companies all across the state. Frank Wolak. Vote Now! 1940: World War II - coal production in Kentucky rises to 72.4 million tons for the war effort. For a more interactive experience, please visit the Kentucky Quarterly Coal Dashboard. Coal in Obama’s climate crosshairs (Politico), “The President is leading a war on coal and what that really means for Kentucky families is a war on jobs,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said in a statement late Thursday, as details of the proposal began to leak out. Tags Tell the Stories of Four Young Holocaust Victims, Large New Whale Species Identified in the Gulf of Mexico, Archaeologists in Egypt Discover Mummy With Gold Tongue, In the 1980s, a Far-Left, Female-Led Domestic Terrorism Group Bombed the U.S. Capitol, A New Explanation for the Dyatlov Pass Incident. The Coal Wars were the result of economic exploitation of workers during a period of social transformation in the coalfields. Locals had a reputation for being violent and unreasonable. Pike remains the largest coal-producing county in Eastern Kentucky, followed by Perry, Harlan, and Bell. Federal synthetic fuel tax credit for use of coal fines begins. Big armed deputies and company men, called “gun thugs” by miners, confronted some union men on a road near Evarts. Coal Wars. “And the announcement by the EPA is another back door attempt by President Obama to fulfill his long-term commitment to shut down our nation’s coal mines.”, DYCHE OPINION | Mitch McConnell & Grimes: Contrast On Coal (WDRB), “It is amusing to watch Grimes try to portray herself as a friend of coal while cozying up to its worst enemies.  This issue will have big impact on the Senate race because the Kentucky coal industry is facing some of its toughest times ever from the combined effect of Obama’s war on coal and the natural gas boom.”, Senate hopeful Alison Lundergan Grimes bashed in Kentucky over links to Sen. Harry Reid (Washington Times), “Grimes is trying to fool Kentuckians — serving up platitudes on Obamacare and coal while getting ready to raise cash in Las Vegas with Harry Reid, the chief defender of Obamacare and the War on Coal,” said Riggs Lewis, board member of Kentuckians for Strong Leadership. Kentucky coal mining evolved following the discovery of coal in Virginia in 1701 by Thomas Walker, a physician. But while wages generally increased for miners throughout the period, they tended to rise more slowly in non-union areas, and the union itself struggled throughout the 1920s. A flank of Vowell Mountain known as "Militia Hill" overlooks this water gap. 4 likes. This Kentucky coal town is fighting for survival long after the war on coal is over Published Sat, Mar 31 2018 2:29 PM EDT Updated Wed, Apr 4 2018 3:12 PM EDT Bob Woods On the stairway of the courthouse in August 1921, Hatfield and his deputy, Ed Chambers, were gunned down by Baldwin-Felts agents. They believed they were fighting the onslaught of Communism. He broke rules instead. In another version of the story, Hatfield initiated the violence, either by giving a signal to armed miners stationed around the town or by firing the first shot himself. Facebook/Kentucky Coal Towns. A foreman who was supposed to help keep workers safe at a Kentucky coal mine has admitted violating a federal safety standard. “That was the beginning of a decline in union power in this country”—one that’s still ongoing. It also did the brunt of the work suppressing unionization in coal mining towns—and today, the Baldwin-Felts men were there to kick out men who had joined the UMWA. “Binz has a proven track record of hostility toward coal and other traditional fossil fuels,” McConnell, from the coal-producing state of Kentucky, said in a statement. World War I brought a coal boom to Kentucky, bringing European immigrants and African-Americans to join the Appalachian farmers turned miners. David Bullock $ 24.95. “When we essentialize a narrative into heroes and villains, we run the risk of invalidating human pain and agency,” Bailey says. 502.875.5130, The War on Coal Puts Democrats on Defense, DYCHE OPINION | Mitch McConnell & Grimes: Contrast On Coal, Senate hopeful Alison Lundergan Grimes bashed in Kentucky over links to Sen. Harry Reid, Kentucky Coal Leader Doubts Alison Lundergan Grimes Could Be Stronger Advocate Than Mitch McConnell, Senate Democrats Blocking McConnell’s Coal Bill Puts Alison Lundergan Grimes in Tough Spot, McConnell’s Kentucky Coal Politics Play Out on Senate Floor, Prospects dimming for Obama’s energy regulator nominee, McConnell Fires Up Case Against EPA Coal Rules, Reid kills vote to stop ‘war on coal’, 2014 U.S. Senate campaign spills onto the U.S. Senate floor as McConnell and Reid spar over coal, Greg Stumbo Fact Checked His Own Ad and Found it False, RPK Blasts Cluster Howard for Past Praise of Obama, RPK On Air Supporting Candidates in 17 State House Districts. One of McConnell’s strengths During his time in the conflict concluded, of! Wrote an opinion article in August 1921, Hatfield and his deputy, Ed Chambers, gunned. A slum lord would frown at, and more bullets began to improve once Franklin Delano passed. 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