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Illinois Coal & Coal Mining
History & Genealogy

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1946
Contract with U. S. Government Expired
at Midnight on November 20

as related in newspaper articles
 

The Daily Illini, Champaign-Urbana, Illinois
75th Year Numbe 46
Thursday, November 21, 1946, Page 3
400,000 QUIT MINES; LEWIS FACES CONTEMPT CHARGES
      Bulletin (By Associated Press)
      The federal government prepared to push contempt :proceedings -- punishable by fine or jail sentence -- against John L. Lewis as the midnight deadline last night for a threatened nationwide coal strike approached without any sign it would be sidetracked.
      President Truman, at Key West, Fla., instructed the justice department to press for a contempt citation against Lewis if he disobeyed a court order directing him to withdraw his notice that the miners' contract with the government died at midnight.
 
      PITTSBURGH -- (AP) -- A general walkout by the United Mine workers' 400,000 members apparently was under way early today in the nation's soft coal fields. It was spearheaded by voluntary work stoppages which idled approximately 140,000 miners in 13 states the past three days.
      The zero hour was midnight last night, the time set by President John L. Lewis of the union for termination of the union's contract with the government. In the language of the miners, expiration of a contract means there would be no work.
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In the Illinois coal fields, an 11 p. m. shift last night did not start work at the United Electric company's Fidelity mine at DuQuoin. The mine, employing 300, was the last major operation to close in a southern Illinois area employing 18,000 UMW workers.
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The Daily Illini, Champaign-Urbana, Illinois
75th Year Number 47
Friday, November 22, 1946, Page 1
AFL Miners, 1,600 Rivals Stop Work
21,000 Illinois Workers Idle As National Coal Tension Increases
      CHICAGO --(AP) -- The work stoppage of Illinois AFL United Mine workers was complete yesterday and about 1,600 members of the rival Progressive mine workers followed suit in three mines.
      More than 21,000 miners were idle in the state. Not a ton of coal was hoisted by the UMW miner's, who produce about 80 per cent of the state's tonnage
      PMW mines were reported operating, except for three Superior Coal company mine shafts near Gillespie, where 1,600 men failed to report for work. James Campbell, local union president, said the men did not work "apparently because of the national coal situation."
      The PMW claims about 18,000 members in Illinois. Their working mines are concentrated mostly in Saline county and the Springfield and Belleville areas, although there are some others in the northern part of the state.
      Fred S. Wilkey, secretary of the Illinois Coal Operators association, said the only United Mine workers in the pits yesterday were the usual maintenance men, including engineers, firemen and pumpmen.
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1,700 MINERS LEAVE JOBS
      SPRINGFIELD --(AP) -- Illinois soft coal production was further decreased yesterday by the idleness of nearly 1,700 members of the Progressive Mine Workers union , independent rival organization to the United Mine Workers.
      Although most of the Progressive Miners continued to hoist coal,more than 1,600 union members employed at three Superior Coal company shafts in the Gillespie area stayed away from work, and about 70 Progressives walked off their jobs at the Belle Valley coal mine near Belleville.
      James Campbell of Gillespie, president of PMW local No. 1, said the men did not work "apparently because of the national situation."
      There was no comment from President John Marchiando or other officials at PMW state headquarters in Springfield.
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The Daily Illini, Champaign-Urbana, Illinois
75th Year Numbe 49
Sunday, November 24, 1946, Page 3
21,000 UAW Miners Quit
More than 21,000 Illinois UAW miners had left their jobs and some Progressive Mine workers had also quit work.
      At Gillespie, James Campbell, local union president of the PMW called a meeting for today at Benld to reconsider the work stoppage of 2,000 PMW workers who left their jobs last week. John Marchiando, state PMW president, announced Friday in Springfield the reopening of contract negotiations with the Coal Producers association of Illinois, and called upon members to remain at work "unless further notified.''
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The Daily Illini, Champaign-Urbana, Illinois
75th Year Number 50
Wednesday, November 27, 1946, Page 3
Rumors Of Coal Strike Ending Denied By Officials
Contempt Trial Begins Today For Lewis
John L. Lewis photo 1       WASHINGTON -- (AP) -- Behind-the-scenes talks looking toward a possible end to the coal strike were widely rumored in the capital last night as the government pressed for speed in John L. Lewis' contempt of court trial, opening today.
      The air was full of reports of private efforts to get negotiations rolling between Lewis and the mine operators. No official confirmation was forthcoming and some of the principals in the coal picture denied knowledge of such efforts.
      However, at Cleveland, Ohio, Cyrus S. Eaton, banker and industrialist, declined to comment on reports that he had exploratory conferences here with Lewis. Lewis and his aides also reserved comment on the reports, which indicated that Eaton was interested in using his good offices, if feasible, in helping bring Lewis and the operators together.
      The seven-day-old strike has already resulted in enforced idleness for about 70,000 workers in industries dependent on coal , in addition to the hundreds of thousands of miners on strike.
      Many schools and colleges either were closing down, or planning to do so soon because of lack of fuel.
      The government was depending on the contempt of court case to build up pressure on Lewis and induce him to call off the walkout.
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The Daily Illini, Champaign-Urbana, Illinois
75th Year Number 51
Wednesday, December 4, 1946, Page 3
Lewis Found Guilty; May Face Heavy Sentence
U. S. Acts To Conserve Fuel; Ickes Blasts Union Chief
Coal Head Responds With Defiant Speech In Federal Court
John L. Lewis photo 2       WASHINGTON -- (AP) -- John L. Lewis yesterday was found guilty of criminal contempt of court -- with a possible heavy sentence -- but the coal strike went on and the government took drastic emergency action to save fuel.
      Lewis responded to the guilty verdict by rising in the federal court room and. making a bitterly defiant speech. He accused the judge of depriving the coal miners of their constitutional rights. He said he would "firmly stand" on his position.
Sentencing Postponed
      After this dramatic scene the judge, T. Alan Goldsborough, sat pondering for four minutes then put off sentencing Lewis until today.
      The language of his conclusions, that Lewis and his union "willfully, wrongfully and deliberately " disobeyed a court order, suggested the possibility of heavy , penalties -- perhaps in the nature of drastic daily fines. Judge Goldsborough has the power to impose an unlimited fine or jail sentence if he wishes.
Truman Silent On Crisis
      President Truman, commanding the government's battle with Lewis, met reporters but declined to comment on the crisis. He said he was leaving the situation in the hands of the court.
      Goldsborough pronounced his verdict by agreeing to the conclusions proposed to him by the U. S. justice department.
      Those conclusions, made public two hours later, showed the judge had found both Lewis and his union -- the United Mine Workers, AFL -- guilty of "civil contempt" and "criminal contempt."
      The document said Lewis and the union had "unlawfully coerced, instigated, induced and encouraged" the miners to interfere with the operation of the government owned coal mines "by strike, slow-down, walkout, cessation of work or otherwise."
Other Charges Suggested
      The language suggested that the government next may prosecute Lewis as an alleged violator of the war labor disputes act (Smith-Connally act). This law forbids anyone to encourage a strike against the government.
      The document also said Lewis and the union "obstructed" the United States in its exercise of sovereign functions.
      Goldsborough ruled Lewis and the union in contempt because they did not obey his restraining order of Nov. 18. That order, if obeyed, would have headed off the bituminous coal walkout which occurred at midnight Nov. 20. Lewis had given notice he was breaking off his contract with the government, and the judge's action of Nov. 18 ordered him not to let this notice stay in effect.
Outlook Still Gloomy
      Yesterday's historic verdict came on the thirteenth day of that walkout. More and more of the nation's industry felt the pinch as coal piles shrank. And the outlook for getting the men back to work was as gloomy as ever.
      Edward R. Burke, who wanted the private coal operators to sit down and bargain with Lewis, resigned as president of the Southern Coal Producers association. He quit after a powerful section of his board of directors denounced his proposal for talks with Lewis.
      Goldsborough asked the attorneys on both sides -- for the government and Lewis -- to give their views today (9 a. m., CST) on what penalties he should impose.
      He said this was an "unusual" request but certainly not an "improper" one.
 
'Our Domestic Hitler,' Former Secretary Calls Lewis
      WASHINGTON . -- (AP) -- The "Curmudgeon," Harold L. Ickes, let go with both barrels at John L. Lewis yesterday, calling him "our own domestic Hitler," and simultaneously accused the government of playing "drop the handkerchief" instead of bringing the mine union chief to book.
      The former interior secretary leveled his fire also at John R. Steelman, presidential adviser, whom he termed "a long time friend of John L. Lewis."
Slaughter To Summon Steelman
      Ickes gave his views before the House surplus property committee, whose chairman, Representative Slaughter (D-Mo), immediately announced he would summon Steelman.
      Marching before the committee which is studying future use of the Big and Little Inch pipelines, Ickes declared:
      "Today we are not at war with Hitler but we are in a desperate fight to keep our economy with its nose above water, to protect the interest and advance the welfare of our people and repel the assault of our own domestic Hitler, a ruthless dictator who goes by the name of John L. Lewis." Lewis, he said , "is getting too big for his breeches."
Ickes Blames Government Officials
      Then turning his guns on government officials, Ickes said they had muffed an opportunity to trim Lewis down to a size to fit his pants.
      He said the government, long ago should have devoted the $145,000,000 war-built pipelines to transportation of natural gas from Texas to the eastern seaboard to raise a competitive barrier in the face of Lewis.
Assails Pipeline Plan
      Ickes then assailed the government's plan, announced Monday by Secretary of the Interior J. A. Krug, for emergency operation of the two lines to help in the coal shortage. He described it as a "choice bit of slick politics as the country has been privileged to see; for a long time."
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The Daily Illini, Champaign-Urbana, Illinois
75th Year Number 51
Wednesday, December 4, 1946, Page 4
PICKETING J. L. LEWIS?
      Here is a letter from an organize, of the United Mine Workers regarding the poor wage scale paid by John L. Lewis to his own union workers. For obvious reasons, the writer of the letter, who works for Lewis' district 50, must remain anonymous. He writes:
      "It is of great interest to see John L. Lewis again" make wage demands of the operators, when the irony is that he does not believe in handing out increases to his own employes. The organizers of district 50 have not received an increase, in most cases since 1942."
      "They have received $208 per month and $5 a day for expenses. In fact, they have been cut. They used to get parking and tolls, but now that has been removed from them. Yet without flinching his eyebrows, Lewis asks for wage increases from employers, forgetting that he, himself, is an employer."
      "There is absolutely no seniority in district 50. The organization certainly needs a union more than the workers in plants to protect them from John L. Lewis. If anything goes wrong or a mistake is made, you get bawled out or fired without any recourse whatsoever."
      "We in the locals introduced resolutions at the convention in Atlantic City, and what happened? The officers pigeon-holed them. Some day members of district 50 will have to resort to picketing."
(Copyright, 1945, by Bell Syndicate, Inc.)
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The Daily Illini, Champaign-Urbana, Illinois
75th Year Number 52
Thursday, December 5, 1946, Page 1
Court Orders Fines For Lewis, Miners
UMW To Fight $3,500,000 Decree
Mine Leader Remains Under Court Order To Curtail Strike
      WASHINGTON -- (AP) -- John L. Lewis was fined $10,000 and his United Mine workers $3,500,000 yesterday after a roaring court room scene in which Lewis challenged the judge to fine him anything he pleased.
      The union will appeal, but meanwhile further contempt-of-court action can be taken in the same court if Lewis doesn't call off the 14-day-old strike in the soft coal mines, now in government possession.
      Federal Judge T. Alan Goldsborough, when Lewis rose and challenged him to fine him any amount, warned the massive-faced AFL leader not to get in contempt of court again. Lewis, with a lawyer tugging at his coat, sat down.
      Goldsborough imposed, yesterday's fines for contempt of court because Lewis and the union ignored the judge's order of Nov. 18 to head off the strike.
Temporary Injunction Issued
      The judge replaced that order yesterday with a temporary injunction. Thus Lewis is still under orders to end his strike. Continued refusal could bring another contempt charge. Still to be tried is the request for a flat judgment that the strike is illegal and must end.
      The mild-voiced Goldsborough called that strike "an evil, demoniac, monstrous thing." He said it meant "hunger and cold, and unemployment and destitution."
      He said it threatened Democratic government itself , and "if actions of this kind can be successfully persisted in, the government will be overthrown, and the government that would take its place would be a dictatorship."
No Imprisonment Ordered
     
      Goldsborough said Lewis really ought to be sent to prison. But the justice department recommended against a prison sentence. Assistant Attorney General John F. Sonnett , questioned by the judge, frankly said it would "make a martyr" out of Lewis. The judge yielded to this view.
      Lewis' lawyers shouted that the sentence was "cruel." Welly K. Hopkins, UMW chief counsel, made a raging, emotional protest in which he roared that the government, to further the administration's political aims, was seeking to "break the union politically, financially, and morally."
      Lewis got up and grasped his hand and as Hopkins' eyes gleamed with tears, Lewis said be subscribed to every word.
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The Daily Illini, Champaign-Urbana, Illinois
75th Year Number 53
Friday, December 6, 1946, Page 1
John L. Lewis photo 3
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The Daily Illini, Champaign-Urbana, Illinois
75th Year Number 55
Sunday, December 8, 1946, Page 3
Lewis Gives In, Ends Strike; Restrictions Dropped
Miners Ordered Back To Work Immediately
Full Scale Resumption Expected Tomorrow
      WASHINGTON -- (AP) -- John L. Lewis gave in to the government yesterday and ended , the soft coal strike.
      With it, like the finish of a nightmare, went virtually all the restrictions it had brought and the economic peril it had poised over this and other countries.
      President Truman canceled the broadcast he had planned for tonight, closed his desk and went to an art show, smiling but silent on the outcome.
      Lewis ordered the 400,000 miners to end the 17-day walkout and go back to work immediately. Reports from the mine fields indicated ready compliance. Some maintenance crews headed for the pits last night, and full-scale resumption of mining Monday morning appeared certain.
Lewis Okays Negotiations
      At the same time Lewis announced his readiness to negotiate with the private mine owners for new wages and other demands, a step which could clear the way for the government to get out of the coal business.
      For his startling step Lewis gave two reasons -- that the supreme court in considering the case might be "free from public pressure superinduced by the hysteria and frenzy of an economic crisis," and that "public necessity requires the quantitative production of coal during such a period."
Appeal Hearing Awaited
      Lewis' retreat came abruptly between two conferences with Chief Justice Vinson of attorneys for the union and the justice department. One conference was held in the forenoon, before Lewis acted; another was held in the late afternoon. The court sent word that no announcement would be made yesterday, and the lawyers all were tight-mouthed.
      The nine justices at their regular Saturday noon conference had an opportunity to decide whether they will hear Lewis' appeal, at the government's request, and Lewis seemed sure that they would. He said that his future negotiations will be "within the limitations of the findings of the supreme court," and made other references to an expected ruling.
Emergency Rules Off
      The sudden end of the strike brought swift action by officials junking the coal conservation measures which had shackled industry and darkened the Christmas outlook. The freight and express embargoes were lifted, the ban on passenger travel revoked, and the 21-state dimout canceled in time for Saturday night shopping throngs except in a few places Where the utilities are nearly out of fuel . A partial removal of the freeze on coal stocks was being prepared and probably will be issued today.
      "We want to remove the controls as quickly as possible so the coal freeze on deliveries and on distribution may return to normal," said a spokesman for the coal mines administration. "However, we want to make sure the consumers in the critical categories get sufficient supplies until coal stocks are replenished."
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The Daily Illini, Champaign-Urbana, Illinois
75th Year Number 55
Sunday, December 8, 1946, Page 4
JOHN L. LEWIS FIRES 'EM
      Here is how John L. Lewis deals with his own employes when they don't toe the line.
      Last week a representative of the UMW walked into the office of Thomas G. Evans, regional director of UMW's district 50 in Knoxville, Tenn., and handed him a letter. Evans, for 10 years employed by the miners, opened the letter.
      He was fired. In 13 months Evans had doubled the dues-paying members of district 50. But he didn't agree with the big boss of the miners on various policies including the strike, and overnight was out of a job.
(Copyright, 1946, by Bell Syndicate, Inc.)
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