Documentary of mining practices in Hazard County, Kentucky. Harry Caudill, attorney and author of Night Comes to the Cumberlands, will not be able to join us in Harlan because of legal business. No help came to those that were in starving situations due to no money to spend on food and no admittance to the company store unless they were gainfully employed by the coal mine. Bill Doan says, "When I got hurt, I couldn't find Jim Miller, the man who had charge of the sick fund." Miner Curtis Cress, 34, says towns that . He says that they do not need the UMW to look after them; he will do that. He can't never walk again." This cookie is set by GDPR Cookie Consent plugin. Working barns of gray-black weathered wood. Their foothold there ultimately ended because the local clergy who were the labor organizers found out that the union was communist in nature and held animosity toward religion. "Yarborough says he just don't want nobody tellin' him how to run his mine," Deaton says. The Red Cross eventually became involved in the county along with several local charities. The decade-long conflict between miners and the coal operators who adamantly resisted unionization has been immortalized in folksong by Florence Reece and Aunt Molly Jackson, contemplated in prose by Theodore Dreiser and Sherwood Anderson, and long been obscured by . Whitfield recalls working in his father's coal mines during the first years of commercial mining in Harlan County, and he describes the conditions. "We want safety all the time, not just when the inspector comes," Jerry Johnson says. In Harlan County, Kentucky, are some of our country's richest natural resourcesand some of its poorest people. Based on this new Act, from October 27, 1933, to March 31, 1935, the mines ran as open shops. Attempts to organize led to the dismissal of employees who were suspected of having leanings toward the organization and having them evicted from their family homes. Following this episode, the women say, Norman Yarborough asked Judge Hogg to hold the UMW and a number of miners and women in contempt of the Judge's order limiting the number of picketers to six. They had no safety committee, the miners say, and the federal reports bear them out. They range in age from about twenty-one to seventy. Office files covering topics such as "accounts receivable," "baseball club," "coal production," "garnishment orders," "Harlan Coal Operator's Association," "labor conditions," "medical conditions . The officials were listed were the "veteran safety director of the Harlan Coal Operators Association, and Rufus Bailey and H. Hamlin, state . HARLAN COUNTYHarlan County, Kentucky, is a rural county located in a major coal-mining region in the Appalachian Mountains. Theoretically, even operators' and owners' children were . In June of 1973, in a National Labor Relations Board election, the miners at Brookside voted 113 to 55 to affiliate with the United Mine Workers. The group included John Dos Passos, Sherwood Anderson, and a number of other writers and artists. This cookie is set by GDPR Cookie Consent plugin. It read: RE-ELECT GAW, JAILER. It seems to me that for a great many people in Harlan County-for poor people and a lot of coal miners the whole county is a jail. It does not store any personal data. No. There are nearly 40,000 people in the county, a drop of 36 percent since 1960. Early accounts of the Harlan County mine wars place the inability of the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) to establish a permanent foothold in the county, first at the feet of the Harlan County Coal Operators Association (HCCOA) and secondly at the worn work boots of miners who, when work was plentiful, saw little or no need for a union. Yarborough's affidavit stated that "the group swarmed out into the roads, stopped cars, and forced company employees into coercive conversations and indulged in generally raucous name-calling and abuse." I've got five living children and four dead. There was a scuffle when a state police captain tried to remove one of the women, she says, adding, "Captain Cromer did get hit several times; I hit him with a stick myself." During the day, a man came and said that if their children weren't out of the jail by night, the welfare people would take them. This was not just a flashy slogan, and the truth of it is . This was thirteen percent of the workers showing up for their scheduled work times. Chicago citation style: Harris & Ewing, photographer. Featuring a haunting soundtrack-with legendary country . Willard Wirtz says that it is important to remember that one side of the dispute felt confident enough about their case to arrange to spread it before the widest possible audience. The most shocking moment in Harlan County, U.S.A. (1976) looks at first like an abstract painting. "In Harlan County, U.S.A., sound anchors, explains, and makes 'authentic' visual imagery compromised by the long history of documentary work in Appalachia.". The Act also made a provision for a National Labor-Relations Board to designate a legal structure for the workers to conduct fair and legal elections of their officers and representatives. The county was once part of Knox County, only becoming official in 1819. The cookies is used to store the user consent for the cookies in the category "Necessary". Lois Scott, a woman of about forty-five, begins to speak first. Some of the women say they haven't had a drink of water since moving to the Brookside camp. They tell of two night incidents when rifle shots were fired at the picketers by unidentified persons. Sadly, the state and federal troops would occupy the county several times. J. D. Skidmore says, "I have no chance of getting a job in Harlan County if this strike is not settled." And lastly, the Harlan Fox Mining Co - presumably derived from the Harlan Fox Coal Co - was in operation from 1925-1932. After the Battle of Evarts, the Red Cross and the United Mine Workers Union refused to help the striking men on the basis that it was now an industrial conflict that needed to be resolved internally. Cite. Barbara Kopple 's Academy Award-winning Harlan County USA unflinchingly documents a grueling coal miners' strike in a small Kentucky town. Others say they intend to speak and write about what they have heard. "I don't like to handle that raw juice," he says. We agree that most of us lean toward the miners, but we think we can be fair in trying to learn the facts. 4 . It doesn't seem like enough. Thirty percent of the families lack automobiles. The roof is approximately forty-eight inches high in the mine. The Harlan County Coal Operators Association, still functioning today, spent nearly a half million dollars from 1927 to 1938 to combat unionism, most of it going to pay strongarm men to terrorize the miners and their families. If those under them behave in an approved manner then they receive housing, work, food, and other perks of their position. A Committee was formed and conducted by Activist Theodore Dreiser under the auspices of the National Committee for the Defense of Political Prisoners (NCDPP). The name comes from a series of United Mine Workers strikes and labor-management battles which ended in a gunfight between deputized mine guards and miners on May 4, 1931, in the tiny community of Evarts. Make your practice more effective and efficient with Casetext's legal research suite. Big Boy. On the way back to the Mount Aire at the end of the day, we pass back through Brookside with its deteriorating mining-camp houses along the stinking Clear Fork River. Mr. Blanton explained the reasoning behind coal camps. Bobby Simpson, 79, has been blind for more than a half-century, but still managed to shovel coal. Violence erupted that would periodically repeat itself for the next eight years. KCA traces its origin to a statewide association of coal operators who united their efforts in 1942. If any attractive woman became interested in me, I'd think it was a very lovely thing. (This . It took forty-five minutes for someone to come and help get him out, Deaton says. Wanted to be able to spend their money at a store of their choice besides the Black Mountain Coal Company store. Three of our Inquiry members plan to talk with the president of Duke Power Company. Most of the land is owned by the mining companies. Interview Summary. After breakfast, we travel fifteen miles east to Evarts. These battles will end the Coal Wars proper. This cookie is set by GDPR Cookie Consent plugin. At these locations, the mine wages began to be comparable to other jobs around the nation. Crossing the Clinch River, we turn onto Highway 421 and leave the modern world. Up at seven on a Monday morning, I walk out onto the balcony of my motel room. We first hear from a number of the striking miners about safety conditions in the Brookside mine. Her daughter, Bessie Cornett, an attractive young brunette, says, "I'm not in jail today because you people are here." Only to be escorted to the county line and told not to return. "This troubles me; I don't sleep," Yarborough says. Listen to "Harlan County Coal" from Pistol Annies' album, 'Hell of a Holiday,' out now: Chorus:Making decorations out of shotgun she. The trees are barely beginning to bud in the early March warmth. [videorecording] Contributor(s): Kopple, Barbara; First-Run Features (Firm) Cabin Creek Films; Publication details: New York : First Run Features, 1976. . Daniels was one of the most hated deputies in the county due to his anti-union views. That means, among other things, an average daily wage of $45. Blair. Dixon and union leaders worry that the union's disappearance in Kentucky has opened the door for coal operators to . Fifty miners and their wives have at one time or another been held in contempt of this order. There was no standard contract for the miners. knee-deep in water, he has experienced many electrical shocks. Other times, he says, "Roof was workin', rock was a-hangin', and it sounded like thunder. James Willard Pope officiating. Prior to Miller's election, the union had become corrupt, dictatorial, and a frequent collaborator with the mine owners. While their main objectives were a steady job, a decent wage and a program of safety checks . They are neatly and attractively dressed. Eight miners were sentenced to life in prison for the actions that were taken on May 5, 1931. The motorcade stopped and the deputies got out of their cars to return fire. Their General Secretary recently released some facts which help to illustrate the reason for much of the unemployment in the county. 2012: $1,552,717. On top of that, we learn later, the union is spending $108,000 a year for medical and hospital coverage for the striking miners and their families. Done. During the Great Depression of the 1930s coal miners in Harlan County, Kentucky, struck against the coal operators for better pay and better working conditio. Our delegation arrives on time at the Eastover office in Brookside. The unemployment rate in the county is 7 percent; that doesn't count those who have long since given up looking for the scarce or nonexistent jobs. Harlan County, Kentucky is known for two things: bituminous coal and Bloody Harlan. Harry Simms, who was a Young Communist League organizer was killed in Harlan. . Dateline Newport News, Virginia, November 12, 1931: Dreiser denies the charge and says he wants people to concentrate on the facts of the labor dispute and "get the American mind off sex for a moment." A Brief History of Harlan County, USA. Documents the 1973 Kentucky coal miners' strike against the operators of the Brookside mine and the Duke Power Company, which resulted from the company's refusal to honor the . Before the first meeting of the Citizens Inquiry, we sit around and talk with the Inquiry chairman, Daniel Pollitt, a professor of law at the University of North Carolina. Two more Inquiry panel members join us, Willard Wirtz, who was Secretary of Labor under Presidents Kennedy and Johnson, and the Reverend Max Glenn, executive director of the Commission on Religion in Appalachia. I am the only man in the United States who would do that sort of thing.". In response to the violence, the Kentucky National Guard was called upon and arrived for the first time in the county to try to stem the violence. Destitute miners were in no position to take a 2 wage cut; yet, in February of 1931 the newest in a long series of wage cuts occurred, reducing miners' weekly pay by 10 percent. Our drive takes us upstream along the yellow-brown Clear Fork River. She says that the women decided that they couldn't fight guns with switches and that they had taken sticks with them the next time. What did the foremen say on those occasions? J. D. Skidmore says that, back in the mines, the phones are always out of order, there is no transportation out until the end of the shift, and it's a one-hour walk to daylight. Past that, the other undulating ridges are blue and hazy. All during the day they worked in shifts, trying to penetrate to the point where the explosion occurred. But relatives did come and take the children. But Barbara Bode has arranged for eleven of them to come up onto the stage at the same time, and they seem to take strength from their numbers. An open shop is where union membership is allowed but not mandated to work at that location. He then answers a question he wasn't asked. Why are people allowed to dump raw sewage in the streams? It was a nearly decade-long conflict, lasting from 1931 to 1939. . Or all you're gonna get's a chunk of Harlan County coal. New subdivisions named Tall Oaks and Colonial Heights. They say no action has been taken on this report. Biographical History . Duke went into the coal business directly in 1970 when it organized Eastover Mining Company as a wholly owned subsidiary and, through it, bought several mines in eastern Kentucky, including the one at Brookside. Strike benefits are $100 weekly for a family, $90 for a couple, and $80 for a single man. 5355 after Local Union 4495 at Black Mountain folded up. In the throes of the Great Depression, Harlan County coal owners and operators, in an effort to expand national dependency on their fuel, chose to sell below cost. Former Director of Harlan County Coal Operators Association. The records show that Beach was convicted of voluntary manslaughter in 1954 and sentenced to ten years in the penitentiary, that he was later charged with carrying a concealed pistol (no disposition shown), and that in 1966 he was tried and acquitted on a murder charge. The Harlan County Coal Wars lasted from 1931-1939. Even though things were doing better for the unions in Harlan County, there was still civil unrest. . Looking for protection by the Kentucky National Guard, many were surprised to find that they broke the picket lines instead. Mostly, the miners were fighting for improved working conditions, higher wages, and better housing options for their families. Neither will Dr. Robert Coles, psychiatrist and author of Children of Crisis. Conflict broke out again the 1970s in what was known as the Brookside strike. : The Harlan County Coal Miners, 1931-39 (Paperback) at the best online prices at eBay! This action did not go unnoticed by the labor unions and the United Mine Workers union decided to attempt to organize the already-impoverished labor force of the area. In response, the United Mine Workers of America attempted to organize the miners. We hope that our hearings will help hold down violence. The slab of slate, more than 51 feet long, and 17 feet wide and weighing tons, was dodged by two men. ", We break for lunch, prepared by the women of the Evarts Community Center. The accident was the second worst mine fatality in the history of Harlan County coal mining, the worst being Harlan Fuel Company .