From Ohio History Central
Hocking Valley Strike Telegrams
In 1882, miners in Ohio established the Ohio Miners Amalgamated Association. This organization was one of the first unions for miners in the United States. During the 1880s, industries were in great need of coal, iron ore, and other raw materials. Many mine owners saw an opportunity to garner great wealth by paying their miners low wages, while supplying other industries with raw materials. Mineworkers commonly earned less than one dollar per day for a twelve to fourteen hour workday. Workers also routinely received no health insurance, workers compensation, or vacation time.
To protest the poor conditions, workers formed unions, such as the Ohio Miners Amalgamated Association. In 1883, the Ohio Miners Amalgamated Association became the Amalgamated Association of Miners of the United States, a national union. This union encouraged workers to band together and to bargain collectively with the mine owners. If employers refused to negotiate with the unions, unions routinely employed strikes to receive better working conditions. Unfortunately for the laborers, a large surplus of workers existed in the United States during this era, and numerous people were willing to work as scab laborers. Commonly, scab laborers were willing to work for less than the workers that they were replacing. Employers also routinely employed strike breakers and armed guards to prevent unions from organizing and strikes from occurring. An example of the difficulties that unions and strikers faced in Ohio during the late 1800s was the Great Hocking Valley Coal Strike of 1884-1885. As with other strikes during this era, the workers failed to achieve their goals. As long as employers had a steady supply of workers—especially ones willing to work for less than current employees, strikers had few chances of having their demands fulfilled.
The Amalgamated Association of Miners of the United States eventually joined the United Mine Workers of America, established in 1890.
- Dubofsky, Melvyn, and Foster Rhea Dulles. Labor in America: A History. N.p.: Harlan Davidson, 2004.
- Montgomery, David. Fall of the House of Labor: The Workplace, the State, and American Labor Activism, 1865-1925. 1989. N.p.: Cambridge University Press.
- Murdock, Eugene. Buckeye Empire: An Illustrated History of Ohio Enterprise. N.p.: Windsol, 1988.