Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Pragmatic West Virginia

West Virginia Democrats know a bit about the practical purpose of unions. The point of organization is to secure fair wages and abolish unfair management practices. They appear to believe that unionism is both collective and local and they vote as if politics is about “Just Us”. Today, the pragmatic Clinton wing of the Democratic Party secures a two to one victory over the global “Justice” of the Obama theorists.

West Virginia's Mine Wars: In response to poor conditions and low wages in the late 1800s, workers in most industries developed unions. Strikes generally focused on a specific problem, lasted short periods of time, and were confined to small areas. During the 1870s and 1880s, there were several attempts to combine local coal mining unions into a national organization. After several unsuccessful efforts, the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) was formed in Columbus, Ohio, in 1890. In its first ten years, the UMWA successfully organized miners in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois. Attempts to organize West Virginia failed in 1892, 1894, 1895, and 1897.

In 1902, the UMWA finally achieved some recognition in the Kanawha-New River Coalfield, its first success in West Virginia. … By 1912, the union had lost control of much of the Kanawha-New River Coalfield. That year, UMWA miners on Paint Creek in Kanawha County demanded wages equal to those of other area mines. The operators rejected the wage increase and miners walked off the job on April 18, beginning one of the most violent strikes in the nation's history.

By 1912, however, the Model T Ford with its gasoline powered engine has already started a liberation of the working class from local employment captivity. If you don’t have to walk to work, if you don’t have to be delivered en masse to work, if you can go work where you please, then you can optimize your life in America. Individual freedom is the tap root of American exceptionalism and it is a shame watching it being destroyed.