"Rakovsky" Albert Smith
February 12 marks the 81st anniversary of the end of
the 1926 coal strike. The mine companies
received $100,000 a day in profits, but they lowered
wages at contract time in September 1925. So 150,000
miners went on strike at 828 mines in Eastern
The thousands of miners in Mount Carmel were still
striking when the harsh winter came. Families
struggled to survive on their savings and the union
strike fund. David Pizzioli and other Italian
community activists in Mount Carmel set up the "Relief
Social Center" and delivered 20,000 rations.
Finally, Gifford Pinchot, considered Pennsylvania's
best governor, settled the strike. He waited
uselessly for help from President Coolidge, who
believed that the government should keep its "hands
off" corporations. After governor Pinchot met
both the mine owners and the United Mine Workers'
leader John L. Lewis, he arbitrated that the companies
would not lower wages. Pinchot learned the coal
companies were "hard-boiled monopolists whose sole
interest in the people is what can be got out of
them." John L. Lewis visited Mount Carmel to much
shows photos online).
Earlier, Pinchot directed the US. forestry service.
The logging companies clearcutted forests and 60% of
Pennsylvania's forests disappeared by 1900. The
logging towns died. So Pinchot led a movement to make
149 public forests for hiking, fishing, and lumber
supplies. In 1933 President Roosevelt asked Pinchot's
advice on reviving logging. Pinchot suggested
nationalizing all forest lands because corporate
logging had failed.
During the 1926 strike, miners dug hundreds of
"bootleg" coal mines to heat their homes. They
dug on the land the companies took from the Indians.
Both the Indians and the bootleg miners believed the
earth's riches were for everyone. If our communities
owned our coal and lumber, these industries might
still be running strong.