October 3 The Father-Son Strike

October 3, 2017

On this day in labor history, the year was 1932. 

That was the day the State Militia was called into Kincaid, Illinois. 

164 high school students had just walked out of the classroom, declaring themselves on strike.

They were protesting the school board’s use of coal from the Peabody Coal Company.

The students walked out in solidarity with their fathers, who were on strike against the Peabody Coal mine in nearby Langleyville over wage concessions. 

The father-son strike, as it was referred to, was one more in a series of protest actions that came on the heels of the founding of the Progressive Miners of America a month earlier.

Thousands of Illinois miners had just voted with their feet to repudiate John L. Lewis’ UMWA over wage concessions.

After their founding conference, new PMA leaders began aggressively organizing non-union mines.

They marched into mining towns and ordered non-union diggers out of the mines. 

They also struck UMW mines, picketing against the industry standard of $5 a day that had been set by the latest concessionary contract. 

At some mines, the PMA was able to win the old $6.10 a day wage. 

Throughout the month, the State National Guard had been called out to a number of mining towns to quell armed conflicts between PMA and UMW supporters. 

The Peabody Coal mine at Langleyville had been shut down for months by ongoing PMA/UMW conflict. 

Now it had reopened under heavy National Guard protection and was the only mine operating in Christian County. 

The striking fathers were PMA miners picketing the continued mine operations under the UMW concessionary contract.

The years-long Illinois mine wars had just begun.

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