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One Of The Many Corpses In The Johnstown Mine
by [?]

The widow says to the mine owner: “Here he is, dead–killed working for you. Where were you when he was killed? Driving in your carriage, enjoying the difference between his EARNINGS and his PAY. Was one dollar and thirty cents per day too much to pay him for this risk? Was it too much to let him save something for us–who now have nothing? Is there nothing to arbitrate when the man who risks his life and gets nothing asks arbitration of the man who risks nothing and gets all? —-

There are many men in America–honest and sincere–who believe that strikers are nearly always right, that failure of a strike is a calamity.

Other men, less numerous, but also honest and sincere, consider strikes an evil. They believe that labor unionism threatens “capital,” threatens national energy, and our national industrial supremacy. —-

Let us endeavor to take a clear view of the strike question, and to discuss–as free from bias as may be possible–some of the main viewpoints of those interested.

We may, at the start, accept two statements as sound:

First. The employer wants as much money as he can possibly get.

Second. The workman wants as much money as HE can possibly get.

It is impossible for both or for either to win absolutely. The success of one must leave the other penniless.

Let us look at the matter of a coal strike only, for simplicity’s sake.

In a coal mine you have three factors:

First. The COAL given to men–presumably for the use of mankind in general–by Divine Providence.

Second. The WORKMEN who dig the coal, haul it, screen it, etc.

Third. The OWNER, who through money, or intelligence, or both, gets control of mines and works them for his profit.

The mine owner resents the suggestion that he and his men are partners.

Ought he to resent that suggestion? We think not.

Miners without any capitalist could certainly get coal out of the ground.

The capitalist without miners could not possibly get coal out of the ground.

The labor is at least as important as the mine. —-

The capitalist who wishes to acquire a mine is willing to grant certain rights and conditions to him who has the MINE for sale. He treats with that person as with an equal.


If a hundred men own the mine, and elect a certain agent to represent them in the sale, the capitalist will willingly treat with that agent EVEN THOUGH HE BE NOT ONE OF THE ACTUAL MINE OWNERS. It becomes simply a question of the agent’s AUTHORITY.

Why does the capitalist haughtily refuse to treat with the accredited agent of the men who have the LABOR for sale,

Is it not because he resents the workman’s attempt at emancipation and equality? Is it not because the capitalist in his heart demands SUBMISSION from the man who works for a daily wage?

Is it not because the powerful among us fail to admit that workers have passed from slavery to equality?

A man owns vast mining properties. He lives in New York and in Newport. Comfortably, and at a distance, he runs and rules his mines. He is good-natured enough, kind-hearted. He means well. He does not see the corpses brought up from the fire-damp. He does not notice the hollow chests of young children with the pores of their skin and the pores of their lungs full of coal dust.

This owner–who rules and draws his profits from Newport–has one bitter complaint against his striking men. He cannot forgive them BECAUSE THEY CALL IN A LABOR LEADER FROM CHICAGO TO SETTLE A LABOR DISPUTE IN PENNSYLVANIA.

Imagining himself most condescending, he expresses willingness to treat personally and individually with his men. But he will not tolerate interference “with my business” on the part of the workmen’s agent, whom he calls “an agitator from Chicago.”