THE “GREAT STRIKE”
A 100th ANNIVERSARY COMMEMORATION
OF THE 1902 ANTHRACITE COAL STRIKE OCTOBER 25 AND 26, 2002
The Anthracite Coal Strike of 1902 is among the most significant events in American labor and industrial history. At a time when Pennsylvania’s anthracite coal commanded a significant share of the American energy one hundred and fifty thousand mineworkers struck in May 1902 demanding higher wages, union recognition, shorter workdays and other concessions from coal operators. President Theodore Roosevelt established the Anthracite Coal Strike Commission to adjudicate a settlement. Following five months of striking and violence mineworkers – represented by the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) - agreed to return to work in November, 1902, as the Commission commenced its hearings at the Lackawanna County Courthouse in Scranton.
Five-hundred witnesses provided fifty-six volumes of testimony and described meager living conditions in “company towns,” unsafe working conditions, and child labor. In March 1903 the Commission granted a 10% pay increase, 9-hour workday, new rules for the weighing of coal, and established the Anthracite Board of Conciliation to adjudicate operator-worker disputes. Though the UMWA did not gain recognition, the settlement represented a partial victory for mineworkers. It also set the stage for Progressive Era reforms in labor-management relations.
Sponsored by numerous statewide, regional, and local organizations, the 100th Anniversary Commemoration of the Great Strike recognizes the historical significance of the events of 1902. Open to the public, the events include historical marker dedications and dinner with a keynote address on October 25, 2002, and an interdisciplinary public history symposium featuring national and international scholars on October 26, 2002.
For more information and a conference program contact Kenneth C. Wolensky or Jesse Titelbaum and the e-mails or phone numbers provided.
Kenneth C. Wolensky, Historian
Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission
400 North Street
Harrisburg, PA 17120
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