Today in labor history, February 10, 1928: At the Hollinger Consolidated Gold Mine in Timmins, Ontario – the largest in North America – 39 miners are killed when a fire spreads carbon monoxide through the workings. There was no rescue plan in place and it took five days to put out the fire.
Around the turn of the century in West Virginia, the coal companies controlled everything. They owned the towns, had their own private militias, and even paid local law enforcement officers and politicians. However, the coal companies control over the state began to wane when the miners started to unionize. One of the last counties to unionize was Logan Country, located in the southwest of the state. In 1920, agents of the Baldwin Felts Detective Agency arrived in the independent town of Matewan to evict several miners families and arrest the local police chief, Sid Hatfield. Hired by the coal companies, the men were essentially there to strong arm the town, which was staunchly pro-union. Days before, the coal companies had tried to bribe the local mayor into placing 5 machine guns on the roofs of the town buildings "in order to maintain order" among the coal miners. The agents threw out several families from their homes at gunpoint. They were met by Chief Hatfield and his deputies, who told them to get out of town. A gunfight ensued, resulting in the deaths of ten men, 7 of which were Baldwin Felts agents, including two of the brothers of the company’s founder, Albert and Lee Felts. The town mayor, Cabell Testerman, was also killed.
Police Chief Sid Hatfield
Sid Hatfield was cleared of murder charges, which was seen as a great victory against the coal companies. Bolstered by the victory, Sid Hatfield and a union organizer named Bill Blizzard organized the miners of Logan County into a union, which quickly went on strike. The coal companies responded by hiring scabs and strike breakers. On August 1st, 1921 Sid Hatfield was called to McDowell County to stand trial for sabotaging a mine. While walking up the courthouse steps with his friend Ed Chambers and their wives, a group of Baldwin Felts agents opened fire, killing Hatfield and Chambers. Chambers, who was only wounded, was executed by one of the agents with a gunshot to the back of the head.
Enraged, the miners took up arms and organized to forcefully break the power of the coal companies. They were joined by thousands of miners from other counties who were sympathetic to their cause. Altogether, the miners formed an army consisting of around 10,000 men. Its is no exaggeration that they were an army, many of the miners were World War I veterans who had seen combat in Europe. Armed with hunting rifles and shotguns, they organized battalions and regiments, assigned commanders, set up command posts, set up hospitals and mess tents, dug trenches, and did everything that a well organized army would do. Their opposition, a eclectic group of coal company militias, guards, state and local police, and Baldwin Felts agents, only numbered around 3,500, however they were well armed with machine guns and other military weapons.
On August 25th, the two sides met, and a battle raged in the West Virginia mountains for almost a week. In the ensuing battle, 50-100 miners were killed, around 30 men on the side of the coal companies were killed. Hundreds more were wounded on both sides. The battle ended when Federal troops arrived on September 2nd. 985 miners were indicted for treason and murder, but in the end none were charged. Overall the battle was a victory for the coal companies in the short term, who clamped down even harder on the miners. In the long term, the battle was a victory for the miners, as the battle rose awareness of the coal miners plight.
It was a good day for Bernie Sanders – and it came just when he needed one.
In a string of victories Thursday morning for the insurgent Democratic presidential candidate, Sanders announced that his campaign had hit its goal of receiving 2 million individual campaign contributions,picked up the endorsement of the 700,000-member strong Communications Worker of America and earned a nod from the liberal group Democracy for America.
It’s a much needed boost for a candidate whose campaign’s momentum seemed to stall a bit lately, and it comes just two days before the party’s next presidential debate in the crucial state of New Hampshire.
Introducing Sanders at a joint press conference at the union’s headquarters here as “the next president of the United States,” CWA President Chris Shelton said the union decided to back Sanders only after its members had made their preference overwhelmingly clear in an online poll.
“The executive board stayed out of this, we did not want to influence what our members decided, they decided this on their own,” Shelton said. “This is absolutely a democratically come to decision.”
Sanders has lost out on endorsements from a string of other major unions, who sided instead with Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton. But Sanders and Shelton suggested that the leadership of the unions might be out of step with their membership.
“What we are seeing is a lot of grassroots support in union after union throughout this country, but that support has not necessarily trickled up to the leadership,” Sanders said.
“I can’t tell you what every member of the AFT or the NEA believes,” he said, referring to two major teachers unions that backed Clinton. “So the answer is, what I would have hoped is that unions who believe in democracy would have done what the CWA did, which was to really bring a wide open process … I think we would have won a lot more union support than is currently the case.”
In the past year I have endlessly blogged and chatted to radio hosts about the intricacies of intimate relationships from communication styles to self observation, with unending awe as I explore the certain mysteries of love and how it affects us all. There are heaps of experts and books out there written by amazing people way more qualified than me about the psychology and technical workings of relationships, but it is my calling to offer you help in this wonderland of life, so it got me wondering, as Grace had named my business Conscious Union, just what is a Conscious Union?
What has been emerging, as Conscious Union earns her place in the “New Earth” jigsaw, is a honing and fine tuning of ingredients that go to make up a conscious relationship and how it is the closest thing to “happily ever after” that we will ever see within our existing DNA structure! So let me take you on a journey around a conscious relationship. If you are in one already then I don my hat to you and say well done…you are helping to pioneer the new relationship paradigm for future generations who understand the meaning of authentic love. If you are in a relationship but wonder if it sizes up then read on. If you are single, this will give you the goal posts within which to aim high for your next relationship!