Read What's a Coal Miner to Do?: The Mechanization of Coal Mining by Keith Dix Free Online
Book Title: What's a Coal Miner to Do?: The Mechanization of Coal Mining|
The author of the book: Keith Dix
ISBN 13: 9780822935858
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 920 KB
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Loaded: 1638 times
Reader ratings: 3.6
Edition: University of Pittsburgh Press
Date of issue: January 1st 1989
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A. Intent of book
1. Technology is referred to as the mechanization of the hand loading of coal.
2. What was the effect of this technology on the social relations of production and the quality of working life?
B. The Hand Loading of Coal
1. From 100 years before the Civil War to the 1930s the production of coal depended on shoveling coal into an empty mining car (bituminous mining)
2. Two methods of removing coal from a coal seam
a) Room and Pillar Method: Tunnels extend horizontally into coal seam. Pillars would be left and would quiclky be removed when all tunnels were built
b) Long Wall Method: removal of an entire seam of coal.
3. Four tasks to hand load
a) Undercutting the coal face with the pick (mechanized in 1880)
b) Drilling the face
c) Blasting the coal
d) Shoveling it into the car
4. The miner was in control of the production process because the supervisor could not visit all rooms-thus payment was made by piecerate.
5. To increase managements control over the workers, the workers lived in company towns and purchased high priced supplies from the company store.
6. This is one reason why operators were reluctant to pursue full mechanization.
7. Mechanization would displace workers, and that would decrease money made at the company store
C. Evolution of Underground Machinery
1. Undercutting machinery in the 19th
a) British inventors used compressed air to cut coal in 1850
b) American's became interested in 1870: Cuuter bar, punching machine, chain machine
2. Coal-loading machinery in the 1920s, 4 types
a) Mining and loading machines: sheared, broke, and loaded the coal
b) Digging and loading machines: mobile loaders. They became the keystone for bituminous mechanization.
c) Room conveyors: Moved coal from the mining area to the cars. Elictrically driven.
d) Scraper loaders: Loaded coal by scraping it along the mine floor by a motor
3. Three principle firms manufactured the loading machines
a) Goodman Manufacturing Company: Sperry invented for this company
b) Jeffry Manufacturing: Oldest mining manufacturer in this country
c) Joy Manufacturing Company: Joseph Joy worked for the Jeffrey company and developed a new idea that was ignored by the jeffrey company. So he started his own company, developed the Joy Loading Machine, the best loading machine ever put in the mines (a significant contribution to mine mechanization). By 1954, 72% of all coal loaded underground was performed by a Joy Loader
D. Transformation of the Miners Job
1. By 1920s 2 things were needed to improve mining efficiency
a) Mechanization of hand methods
b) Scientific management in the mines
(1) The miners control of production at the face had to be broken
(2) This was not possible until loading machines were established
2. When these were adopted the miners job was drastically altered
a) Few liked loading coal mechanically-it was hazardous (coal dust filled the air and the noise was deafening)
b) The hand loaders lost their jobs
c) Many men died because of roof collapses as a result of taking out coal too fast
d) Eliminated the piece rate system
E. Miners' Response to Technological Change: The origination of a national union
1. The struggle to unite
a) Began in 1860 with the American Miners Association
b) Replaced by the National Miners Association in 1873
c) Then the Knights in the 1880s organized local unions
d) But, local unions could not defeat management-a national was needed
2. The formation of a national union
a) National Federation of Miners and Mine Laborers (1885)
b) This national and the Knights affiliates joined to becaome the United Mine Workers of AMerica (1890)
3. The Evolution of the UMWA's Mechanization Policy
a) John Mitchell's (1900 UMWA pres.) Business Unionism
(1) Concerning machinery in mines he was conservative. This would later influence John White and John L. Lewis
(2) Claimed that the union did not always oppose innovation and technology
(3) He knew that the machine dehumanized and eliminated jobs, yet he was against resistance because the machines would go to non-union competitors
b) John L. Lewis' response to mechanization
(1) He favored mechanization and believed it was the key to long-run stabilization of the industry
c) Lewis believed that if he could stabilize wages then the operators would install machinery that would lower production costs. This would drive the less-efficient non-union companies out of business.
4. Union and Industry During the Great Depression
a) From 1925-33 technology for modernization was increasing and industry attempted to overcome local resistance
b) Economic forces in the 30s opened the way for mechanization of the coal mones: Upturn in coal demand (1933-34), low interest rates, better machinery.
c) Main obstacle was local workers control. The freedom to leave the workplace at will and a refusal to negotiate separate rates of pay. This control had to be broken to make the new technology profitable.
d) When this was overcome there was an explosion in mechanization
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