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May 31, 1974 - Image 4

Resource type:
Michigan Daily, 1974-05-31

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ty ha
off th
the A
owns t
The 1

ity DAVID STOLL nition of the United Alinework- L
SKIICTS IT to the west, ers of America (UMW) as their u
rr that motorists driving bargaining agent.e
to l-ori Ia or the Great T he Brookside srike is im- t
es see only a few scalped portant because it pits Arnold r
ain ridges atd some dir- Miller's reformed UMW against
ze it the air. But a trip a large corporation under pres- d
e interstate into the coal- sutre from the energy crisis. a
of e-rstern Kentucky is Owner of the mine, through t
ctive, because up those it subsidiary Eastover Mining t
tg two-ltrne highways is a Company, is the Duke Power
in the infrastructure of Corporation. Sixth largest util- t
merican dream. ity in the country and third lar- l
coal fields lay bare some gest consumer of coal, the cor- V
ntary facts about what poration also represents the ma- a
this country, who does the jor endowment of Duke Uni- b
and who srrffers the lack. versity. t
esson is visible in the Resurging from the long de- n

UMW. and in recent years the
union has won few organizing
elections. But as it has for for-
y years, the UMW remains a
rallying point, not just to its
membership, but to legions of
disabled and retired miners in
region where it is frequently
he only organized counterforce
o the coal industry.
The strike is also the first
est of will for the new UMW
eadership against the industry.
With coal production booming
rnd prices soaring, the UMW
badly wants to channel some of
he wealth from unorganized
mines into its battered Wel-

but Eastoser offici
to accept the stant
try - wide UMW
month later, after
mised $100 a week
their families by tht
miners went out or
late November, aft
bargaining sessions
pany announced ti
breaking off negotia
the basic attitude o
changed." There h
bargaining since. G
over managed to ke
open for a time wit
crew, five months al
judge ordered it sht


coal camps strung out along
the state routes, in the little col-
lections of houses up the hol-
lows, and at the entrances to
the mines, barred by high chain
link fencing.
After booming down through
Ohio at seventy miles an hour,
it's like corning to a sudden
stop. Garnt facts become ob-
vious in those hills, facts which
we've known before and tried
to forget. As one returns to the
interstate and the prosperous
suburbs of automobile and
movement, the memory con-
tinues to disturb for a little
while,etrouling the smooth
crrncrete srrrfaces, then fades.
BUT THE PICKET lines are
up again in larlan County,
and when that happens peopl
and when that happens people
outside the mountains sit up
and take notice. Since July of
last year 160 miners hrve been
or strike at the Brookside Mine
in Harlan, holding out for recog-

"The Brookside mine, and the company-owned camp of the
name which surrounds it, are just two miles up the road fro
little community of Evarts where, on May 5, 1931, gunfirei
between mine guards and union men, leaving at least five pi
dead and the county with the epithet 'Bloody Harlan'."

ials refused cott. The union not only took
lard, indus- out a full-page ad in the Wall
contract. A Street Journal asking investors
being pro- not to put their money into
benefits for Duke, but also imported forty
e UMW, the Harlan miners to picket the
n strike. In stock exchange.
er fourteen THE UMW has also spent
the com- $20,000 on full-page newspaper
hat it was ads attacking the corporation
tions ."until in the Carolinas, 'where Duke
f the UMW supplies electricity to three and
as been no a half million customers and
While East- has aroused intense consumer
ep the mine opposition over rate increases.
h a skeleton After telling consumers in an
go a federal extensive advertising campaign
ut down for to cut down on their use of
....a...m electricity because of the ener-
gy crisis, Duke then asked for
same a large rate increase because
m the it said decreased consumption
had increased its costs. Duke
flared had earlier told its customers
ersons to increase their consumption
of electricity, then asked for
rate increases to finance ex-
:rate rate-payers in North
Carolina, smarting under their
rike began fifth rate increase in recent
rrests have years, are currently packing
for violation utility commission hearings
Hogg's in- which will determine whether
more than Duke is allowed to keep a 17
-h mine en-_ per cent temporary increase
granted it last year.
ongregating also point hopefully to figures
s and were which they say indicate the
her, strike shutdown is costing Duke $1
olding "sun- million a month, but whether
es" on the it is or not Duke officials deny
rarby, pro- the strike is hurting them.
A one-time A late-comer to the coal is-
in a small dustry, Duke did not purchase
udge tlogg the Brookside mine until tune,
ssed $500 1970, since which time it has
h suspended bought a total of five other
ixteen guil- mines in East Kentucky and
rg eight wo- Virginia. The corporation says
it for refus- it hopes to get one third of its
es, the wo- 15 million ton coal requirement
no one to from its own mines this year,
ren so they but Brookside would have pro-
om two to duced only about ten percent
h them, re- of this in any case.

cline which began in the latter
days of John L. Lewis and
worsened tinder Tony Boyle, the
UMW is the first of the big
rnions to have its entrenched
leadership overthrown by a
rank and file movement.
THE STRIKE is an import-
ant demonstration of renewed
militancy by the union, and es-
r'ecially in East Kentucky. Nev-
er very strong in the first place,
the UMW's hold there has slip-
ned dr-rstically in the last two
decades. Fully a third of the
miners in the area are non-

Michigan Daily
Edi ted and managed by Students at the
University of Michigan
Friday, May 31, 1974
News Phone: 764-0552
Legalized drugso?
THE MICHIGAN HOUSE and Senate have finally voted
their way out from under the thumbs of large phar-
maceutical companies, by passing similar versions of a
bill which allows pharmacists to dispense generic drugs
instead of often more expensive brand name drugs spe-
cified in prescriptions. This means that consumers who
are willing to spend time shopping comparatively will be
able to save on their medicine bills.
We recommend that as a follow-up to this laudable
bill, t' stah r legislature socialize the medical profession
in Miclthigan.
DO"E mi.RAis'roT, 1999-r9'4-

fare and Retirement fund. And
as industry-wide contracts ex-
pire in November, the strike is
also a demonstration to the
giant energy corporations with
which the union will have to
negotiate a new contract.
national media early t h i s
soring, the strike owes more
than a little of the attention it's
getting to its setting.
The Brookside mine, and the
company-owned camp of the
same name which surrounds it,
are just two miles trp the road
from the little community of
Evarts where, on May 5, 1931,
gunfire flared between mine
guards and union men, leaving
at least five persons dead and
the county with the epithet
"Bloody tarlan."
From World War I into the
late thirties Harlan County was
the scene of bitter labor strug-
gles between coal operators and
onions determined to organize.
Thrown out of work by the
thousands as the mines skirted
bankruptcy or closed, miners
were evicted from their homes,
horrses dynamited, men beaten
ard shot and their families
desperation and violence of the
old days has appeared to date
at Brookside, some things
haven't changed. Men still keep
their shotgons handy while the
strike is on, mine entrances
and company officials are pro-
tected by armed guards, and
shootings have occurred. Min-
ers and their wives clash with
scabs on the picket line. A coal
operators' judge severely re-
strict picketing; imposing harsh
sentences and fines on those
who violate his orders.
Although many of the Brook-
side strikers have fathers or
uncles who were active in the
union battles of the thirties,
when they voted in June, 1973,
to recognize the UMW as their
bargaining agent it came as a
surprise. UMW - initiated or-
g-rnizing efforts in the area had
sputtered and died. When the
rainer-initiated d r i v e a t
Brookside succeeded, it caught
the UMW leadership off guard.
THE WORKERS at Brookside
had been represented by the
Southern Labor Union (SLU),
an sn-militant outfit started by
coal operators in the 1950s.
With hospitalization benefits,
and wage settlements inferior
to those of the UMW, the SLU
had also failed to press miners'
demands for portal to portal
pay and resolution of numer-
ous safety violations in the
The miners voted 113-55 in fa-
vor of the UMW in an election
supervised by the National La-
bor Relations Board (NLRB),

safety reasons.
more than fifty at
been made, mostly f
of Judge F. Byrd
junctiqn against
three pickets at eat
After miners' wiv
porters took to c
near mine entrance
arrested last Octo
supporters took to hr
rise revival service
railroad tracks ne
voking more arrests.
major stockholder
mining company, J
subsequently asse
fines and six - monft
sentences against s
ty parties - includin
men. Ordered to ja
ing to pay their fin
men said they had
care for their childr
took youngsters frr
seven years old wit

"While nothing like the desperation and
violence of the old days has appeared to
date at Brookside, some things haven't
changed. Men still keep their shotguns
handy while the strike is on, mine entrances
and company officials are protected by
armed guards, and shootings have oc-

srlting in a spate of sympathetic
publicity. More recently other
members of what is called "The
Brookside Women's Club" have
been arrested for lying down
in the road to block trucks driv-
en by non-union workers.
THE UNION claims that the
basic issue in the strike is re-
cognition of the UMW as bar-
gaining agent, but it also re-
mains deadlocked with the
company on several other is-
sues. These include royalty for
the UMW's welfare and re-
tirement fund--the union wants
75 cents a ton (the company
will offer only .50); the right of
the union to shut down the mine
if it considers it unsafe; and
extension of the UMW con-
tract to other mines owned by
Costing the union $20,000 a
week in benefits, as the strike
goes into its tenth month, the
UMW effort is taking on the di-
mension of total struggle as
practiced by Farmworkers and
Farah boycotters.
The day Duke made a $100
million bond and an $85 million
stock offering on the New
York exchange, the UMW re-
sponded with what may be a
pioneer tactic, the stock boy-

Duke has yet to show any
eagerness to settle but the un-
ion faces a severe test as the
strike approaches its second
year. When the current agree-
ment expires on June 26, tinder
NLRB rules the strikers will
not be eligible to vote for an-
other UMW agreement. The
company will have the right to
fire them, hire new men and
hold its own election, the isse
of which worrld likely -be in
favor of the St.U.
TO FORESTALL that event-
uality, on May 14 the UMW fil-
ed an eleven - count complaint
with the NLRB, charging that
the company has not been bar-
gaining in good faith and that
the SLU has engaged in unfair
labor practices. Incrlrded were
tape - recorded conversations,
photographs and sworn state-
ments from two UMW support-
ers, charging that two SLU of-
ficials gave them $300 cash, and
promised $5,000 more, if they
would break the UMW strike.
If the NLRB substantiates the
UMW's charges, then the elec-
tion will be postponed and
the Brookside strikers will gain
more time.

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