Bituminous Coal Strike of 1977–1978

Bituminous Coal Strike Of 1977–1978

Bituminous Coal Strike of 1977–1978

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The Bituminous Coal Strike of 1977–1978 was a 110-day national coal strike in the United States led by the United Mine Workers of America, AFL-CIO. It began December 6, 1977, and ended on March 19, 1978. It is generally considered a successful union strike, although the contract was not beneficial to union members.

Since the 1940s, the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) had negotiated a nationwide National Coal Wage Agreement with the Bituminous Coal Operators Association (BCOA), a group of large coal mine operators. The three-year agreements covered national bargaining issues such as wages, health and pension benefits, workplace health and safety, and work rules. Local agreements, far more limited in scope, were negotiated by each individual local affiliate of UMWA.

Causes of the strike

UMWA president Arnold Miller had negotiated the previous collective bargaining agreement in during the Bituminous Coal Strike of 1974.

The right of local unions to strike—not wages—was the primary issue in the negotiations. In the 1930s and 1940s, destructive competition drove coal operators to cut prices so drastically that many went into bankruptcy. Many producers slashed wages drastically to survive. From the workers' perspective, this was bad enough. During the Great Depression, however, wages needed to be kept high in order to stimulate demand. UMWA and other unions took advantage of the depression by offering industry-wide, national collective bargaining agreements as a way to...
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