April 1, 1946

On this date, 400,000 coal miners in 26 states began a strike for safer working conditions and better wages.  Six weeks later, President Harry Truman took control of the mines and ordered the miners back to work without agreeing to any of the demands.  United Mine Workers of America leader John L. Lewis led the workers off the job again in November of 1946.  Despite a court injunction, the miners refused to return to the mines.  John Lewis was jailed and the UMWA was fined 3.5 million dollars.  Finally in December, the government agreed to the demands and the miners returned to their jobs.

Coal Mining has always been dangerous work.  Between 1940-1945, 7,942 miners lost their lives in coal mining accidents and explosions, an average of 1,588 per year.  Thousands more died of black lung disease.  Following the UMWA strike of 1946, accidental death was reduced significantly in mines.  Between 1947-1966, 9,498 miners died, an average of 475 per year.


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