William Bauchop Wilson
Strike of 1899 - 1900
The Blossburg Advertiser January 20, 1899, Vol.15, No. 7
Last Friday a committee from Arnot and Landrus Mines met Supt. Lincoln in Arnot to discuss the dockage question, which has been a burning one for some months, and was left to Mr. Lincoln, as residuary legatee of Supt. Loomis. As this was the committee's first meeting with Mr. Lincoln they were naturally apprehensive as to the manner in which they would be received.
THE DOCKAGE QUESTION
One of the committee informs us that Supt. Lincoln met them cordially, treated them courteously, argued the case with ability, yet asked for further trial of the rule. He did, however, disavow the severe construction placed - and naturally so - upon the rule by the miners. In addition when Supt. Lincoln's attendtion was called to the way the miners train was delayed by a local coal train, from 20 minutes to an hour each night, he immediately issued an order that the miners' train should have the right of way over the other trains. This allows the men to go straight home instead of standing around in their wet clothes and getting chilled to the bone these cold nights, and is greatly appreciated by the men.
Our informant stated the committee were pleased with their reception by Supt. Lincoln and predicted that they would get along with him without any friction. We hope this is true as the many troubles between the company and its men were caused by bumptious and bull-headed superintendents, who, "dressed in a little brief authority," refused to meet with fellow employees of the same company and discuss business matters concerning all.
The Blossburg Advertiser January 27, 1899, Vol.15, No. 8
The docking of the miners at Arnot and at Landrus has been stirring up considerable excitement during the past year, and in order that the people of the county may thoroughly understand the question and also see that the complaints of the miners are just ones, we present a fair and true statement:
THE DOCKING QUESTION
When Mr. Dodson was superintendent the company complained that the coal sent to market was very dirty and at a conference about the matter between Mr. Dodson and the mine committee a contract was amicably agreed upon that the miners at Arnot should allow 260 pounds of coal on each mine car sent out so as to reimburse the company for the expense of cleaning coal. It was further agreed that the miners at Landrus should allow 50 pounds on each mine car sent out, the coal at that place being cleaner than that at Arnot.
This rule, which had been in effect for several years, was abrogated by Supt. Loomis about eight months ago. That is, he still required the miners to give the tare on each car and then insisted that they send out clean coal under penalty of suspension or discharge. Quite a spirited corresponse took place between Mr. Loomis and the mine committee, but Mr. Loomis insisted upon his "pound of flesh."
The committee showed that it was next to impossible to send out clean coal and that the Dodson rule provided for the bony unavoidably sent out. The committee further claimed that if they were bound, under penalty of discharge, to send out clean coal, then the other part of the bony contract was also void, to wit: The company should cease to retain the 260 pounds tare at Arnot and 50 pounds tare at Landrus. What these two tares mean is best understood from the following figures:
There are, on an average, 2,000 cars of coal sent out daily at Arnot. With 260 pounds tare on each car it amounts, in the aggregate, to 260 tons. The average price per ton is 67 cents. This price multiplied by the 260 tons, equals $174.20 per day. This sum not only pays the company's slate pickers, but the other schute hands as well. On this point, if the men employed on the schutes cannot, in the clear light of day, discover the impurities, is it not too much for the miners to do so in the mines by a small light?
At Landrus there are, on an average, 800 cars sent out each day. At 50 pounds tare it amounts to $26.40 per day and this sum, also, repays the company the wages it pays for cleaning the coal.
Both law and equity sustain the position taken by the mine committee a contract in law is binding only as long as both parties fulfill its provisions. When one party to a contract, by omission or commissions, fails to perform his obligation, the contract is void. Therefore, the miners can easily recover in the courts pay for the 260 pounds taken from them on each car sent out since Supt. Loomis abrogated the Dodson rule.
By this impartial statement the people cannot fail to see that law, justice and facts sustain the claims of the miners.
The Blossburg Advertiser February 24, 1899, Vol.15, No. 12
There is an advance in wages due the miners this district. This is as plain as the traditional pikestaff. The statistics show an increased demand for coal all over the country. The market reports from Philadelphia say that the "bituminous trade continues in heavy demand." From Buffalo, the "supply is not equal to demand, with a stiffening of prices." "There is a scarcity of soft coal all over New England and the manufactures are being to wear a worried look." The Black Diamond says "there is a good demand in all the Atlantic seaboard trade." The same information comes from all the coal trade journals. The miners of this region and district ought to rise to the occasion. If there is anybody or anything standing in the way of the miners acting unitedly, such person or thing ought to be unceremoniously shoved aside.
AN ADVANCE DUE
Horace Greely once said that "the way to resume specie payments is to resume specie payments." The way to get an advance in wages is to organize and ask for it. The advance can be gotten ten times easier now then after May 1st. There is not a miner in this region but who knows that to be true. With an organization behind your committees they can say to the superintendents as the Roman did to Carthage, "We hold both peace and war in our clothes; which shall we shake out to you?" And the miners can rest assured that peace will be asked for and they will get a just advance of at least 10 per cent.
The Blossburg Advertiser March 24, 1899, Vol.15, No. 16
Last Saturday evening delegates from Arnot, Landrus and Klondike mines met in Odd Fellows hall, Blossburg, for the purpose of agreeing upon a line of action concerning the dockage question and the scale of prices submitted by Supt. Lincoln for digging coal at Klondike mines. After a full discussion it was unanimously argeed to hold a mass meeting at Arnot on Tuesday afternoon at 1 o'clock and that the mine committee informed Supt. Lincoln and secure the hall.
MINERS' MASS MEETING
On Tuesday at the appointed time a large number of men gathered near the opera house in Arnot and W.B. Wilson was chosen chairman. The committee reported that Supt. Lincoln had refused them the use of the hall, and then business began on the ground floor. The day was bitterly cold but that made no difference. Whoever counciled Supt. Lincoln to refuse the men the use of the hall is an enemy of his. He may not believe this now, but he will find it to be true, just as other superintendents found it out. The miners of this region are not deterred from asking for their rights by sharp practice or petty annoyances, in fact such things make them more determined on their course. Supt. Lincoln will find that to be true, also. His refusal caused the miners to look the matters squarely in the face and they speedly picked up the gauntlet thrown down by him. They organized themselves into a lodge of the U.M.W. of A., elected W.B. Wilson a delegate to the district convention of that organization held at Tyrone, Pa., yesterday. They also appointed a committee to draft a new scale, submitted to Mr. Lincoln and report his answer to a mass meeting to be held at 10 o'clock tomorrow. If a hall can be had the meeting will be held in Arnot, if not, it will be held in Blossburg.
It is the duty of every miner to attend that meeting at present a solid front not only on the Klondike and dockage questions, but also on an advance of at least 10 per cent, which the market price of coal justifies. As fast as the rooms are worked out at Arnot and Landrus the men will have either to go to work at Klondike or take the road. So they are all vitally concerned in settling this matter right.
The Blossburg Advertiser April 7, 1899, Vol.15, No. 18
When the miners met here on Tuesday, March 28, the Maple Hill matter had come to the parting of the ways. It looked like a strike or back-down. A motion was make which, if carried, would have precipitated a strike there and then. But more conservative counsels prevailed. A committee of brainy and conservative men were chosen to again interview Supt. Lincoln on slightly different lines. This committee knows every phase of mining, is skilled in settling wage disputes, is conservative, yet courageous, and has the comfidence of the men to the greatest degree. The committee was composed of James McMahon, John Kane, Daniel Lynch, Joseph (Tug) Wilson and Ira Williams. It was a human certainty that if the matter could be settled justly and without a strike this committee could do it.
MINERS' MASS MEETING
When this committee called on Supt. Lincoln they found a changed man to deal with. The action of Tuesday had, seemingly, convinced him that he had been getting some very bad advice. It is greatly to Supt. Lincoln's credit that he posses such a high degree of acumen as to enable him to discern the motives and actions of the marplots who have ever been a curse to this region. This coterie kept Supt. Lyon and the miners at daggers' points, and he left here a soured, baffled man, with the enmity of every miner in this section. Supt. Dodson shut down on the coterie at the first peep, and there never was a strike - except the general strike - nor any disagreeable incident during his administration, and when he died he carried to the grave the sincere sorrow of every man who dealt with him. Supt. Smith listened to the malice and the lies of this coterie and it brought out an incident which Mr. Smith will remember to the day he dies. The same lying, develish course was tried on Supt. Lincoln. He was told how the miners had threatened and slandered him. To the miners he was pictured as a Pharoah, one who desired to trample on them and grind them in the mud. But, all power to Supt. Lincoln, when the committee called on him they found that the lies and malice of the junta had over-stepped the limit, and Mr. Lincoln and the committee sat down and amid mutual explanations and a comparison of stories laid bare the machinations of the schemers. After mutual explanations had taken place, the matter in dispute were quickly adjusted, the Maple Hill miners to have places provided for them at once and the other matters left in shape to settled in a short time.
The Advertiser congratulates all concerned, Supt. Lincoln, the committee and the men, on this harmonious outcome. We predict since a mutual explanation has taken place between Supt. Lincoln and the committee that he will have a peaceful and successful administration if he pursues the same policy with future committees that he adopted toward this one.
Saturday's meeting was a big one. With the exception of Antrim there men present from all the mining towns. The meeting was called to order by the new president, John Kane. Mr. Kane has had a long and successful career as a committeeman and labor leader. He has the qualities necessary to a successful official. He has the experience, is cool, calm and courageous, and thoroughly understands parlimentary rules and is the proper man to smooth out the difficulties which arise and to settle them without friction and with justice to all.
T.A. Bradley unexpectedly disappointed the gathering and Wm. B. Wilson spoke. He made a first-class address, which was heartily applauded. Mr. Wilson stated that the miners west of Pittsburgh had won a 8-hour workday; he pointed out the advantages arising from it and urged the men to organize and secure them. It was a short, eloquent pithy address and made a deep impression.
The committeeman James McMahon made a report of the meeting with Supt. Lincoln. His statement concerning the settlement of the matter was received with much enthusiasm, and at its close the committee received a rousing vote of thanks. Supt. Lincoln emphatically denied that he had attempted or would attempt to compel the men to trade in the store at Arnot. He stated when men earn money they had a right to spend it where they pleased.
The details of amalgamating with the U.M.W. of A. were worked out, which puts 700 new members in this county into the organization.
A joyous, light-hearted set of men wended their way home, with good words for the committee and Supt. Lincoln.
Reports from the other meetings held through out the State last Saturday, show that they were generally successfully and greatly encouraged the officials.
President Wilson is endeavoring to arrange a joint convention of the operators and miners of this district. We hope he will be successful to the last degree. There is no earthly reason why the operators and miners should not meet in a friendly convention and construct a scale which will prevent strikes and the consequent harsh feeling and prevent cut-throat policy which causes the operators to carry on their business on a bankrupt basis and their employees on a beggarly wage. A little harmony, some prudence and a little common sense rightly used in this matter will bring them together and end the present conditions which produce nothing but bad feeling, small profits and poor wages.
The miners in parts of Cambria and Centre counties, who were not receiving the scale, quit work Monday. The national organization is financially aiding the district officers and the work is going on rapidly.