Today in Labor History – December 19th

labor history december 19

An explosion in the Darr Mine in Westmoreland County,  Pennsylvania killed 239 coal miners. Seventy-one of the dead share a common grave in Olive Branch Cemetery. An inquiry carried out after the disaster determined that the blast was the result of miners carrying open lamps in an area cordoned off the previous day by the fire boss. The mine’s owner, the Pittsburgh Coal Company, was not held responsible but abandoned the use of open lamps after the disaster. December 1907 was the worst month in US coal mining history, with over 3,000 dead. – 1907

A 47-day strike at Greyhound Bus Lines ended with members of the Amalgamated Transit Union accepting a new contract containing deep cuts in wages and benefits. Striker Ray Phillips died during the strike, run over on a picket line by a scab Greyhound trainee. – 1983

Twenty-six men and one woman were killed in the Wilberg Coal Mine Disaster near Orangeville, Utah. The escape route of the 27 people was cut off when the fire quickly engulfed the intake of the 5th Right long wall. The fire was caused by a faulty air compressor, which was allowed to run unattended in an area that was not fire-proofed. The disaster has been termed the worst coal mine fire in the state’s history. – 1984

The Devil Is Here in These Hills: West Virginia’s Coal Miners and Their Battle for Freedom

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