Coal-Mine Workers and Their Industry













Table of Contents

    What is coal? How did it come into existence? The coal resources of the world The coal fields of United States and Canada The early history of coal in the United States Who is a coal miner? Who is who in the coal mining industry? Coal production in the United States Coal Mine Accidents Can the coal miners of the United States get justice through political action? The struggle towards organization among the coal mine workers The United Mine Workers of America The International Miners’ Federation Relative importance of union and non-union fields How is the product of the coal mine workers divided? The false argument of the operators The proposed nationalization of the coal mines The principles and methods of the I. W. W. Why the coal miners should join Coal-Mine Workers’ Industrial Union No. 220 of the Industrial Workers of the World




THIS HANDBOOK for the coal-mining industry is issued by the Industrial Workers of the World for the Coal-Mine Workers’ Industrial Union No. 220, of the I. W. W.

It is the opinion of the above organization that the main thing which separates the workers from control over and possession of the industries is their industrial ignorance. They may be mechanics and experts in their particular lines, but very few of them have that general grasp of all the facts pertaining to their industry which is indispensable in an age when the burning question is the taking over and the running of the industries by the organized workers. The first actual attempts in this line in Russia in the early stages of the revolution collapsed, mainly for lack of the necessary knowledge by the workers. We ought to learn from the mistakes made by others.

This handbook is the first book to be issued by the I. W. W. for the coal-mining industry. For that reason it is in the nature of a general introduction to the industry. The object of it is to arouse the interest of the coal-miners in the idea of taking over the mines and their operation through the unions, in accordance with the general program of the I. W. W., and to make them join Coal-Mine Workers’ Industrial Union No. 220 of the I. W. W.

We have tried to make each chapter a more or less independent link in the chain of 18 chapters, in order to make them suitable for reprinting in periodicals without any considerable changes. This accounts for the repetitions that occur now and then.

In due time this general introduction to the various phases of the coal-mining industry should be supplemented with one work after another, written with a view to teaching the workers to manage the industry on a world basis, in such a manner that there will be no risk of industrial collapse with subsequent reaction.

We hope the coal-miners reading this book will help us in circulating it to the limit of their possibilities.

The book can be obtained from either of the two following addresses :

Secretary, Coal-Mine Workers’ Industrial Union No. 220, 318 No. Wyoming St., Butte, Mont. ; or

General Secretary-Treasurer, I. W. W., 1001 West Madison St., Chicago, Ill.

Educational Bureau, I. W. W.





The working class and the employing class have nothing in common. There can be no peace so long as hunger and want are found among millions of working people and the few, who make up the employing class, have all the good things of life.

Between these two classes a struggle must go on until the workers of the world organize as a class, take possession of the earth and the machinery of production, and abolish the wage system.

We find that the centering of management of the industries into fewer and fewer hands makes the trade unions unable to cope with the ever growing power of the employing class. The trade unions foster a state of affairs which allows one set of workers to be pitted against another set of workers in the same industry, thereby helping defeat one another in wage wars. Moreover, the trade unions aid the employing class to mislead the workers into the belief that the working class have interests in common with their employers.

These conditions can be changed and the interest of the working class upheld only by an organization formed in such a way that all its members in any one industry, or in all industries if necessary, cease work whenever a strike or lockout is on in any department thereof, thus making an injury to one an injury to all.

Instead of the conservative motto, "A fair day’s wage for a fair day’s work," we must inscribe on our banner the revolutionary watchword, "Abolition of the wage system."

It is the historic mission of the working class to do away with capitalism. The army of production must be organized, not only for the every-day struggle with capitalists, but also to carry on production when capitalism shall have been overthrown. By organizing industrially we are forming the structure of the new society within the shell of the old.


On to Chapter One

Last updated 5 November 2004 by David Walters for the MIA’s I.W.W. Collection. We extend our heartfelt thanks to J. D. Crutchfied for granting us permission to use his collection of online pamphlets.