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Miners of Windber - Ppr. by Mildred Allen…
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Miners of Windber - Ppr.

by Mildred Allen Beik

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Here's another one about home. My dad swears his grandfather is in the front of the picture on the cover but his cantankerous Aunt would never quite agree. This is a great story of the intricate weavings of a global enterprise and unjust working conditions for new workers in our once again (I love to use this) allegedly Christian country at the time of high Christianity conflated with the state here, and animosity toward immigrants fleeing self-destructing Austro-Hungarian and Russian empires. This story is heart wrenching about the sufferings and struggles of some people (some of whom I am related to) and other people (thankfully I have absolutely no relation to, is that self-righteous or what?) who just wanted to protect their own interests and build their houses on Fifth Av and the Philadephia Mainline and populate with Faberge and similar jewelry for their pets. Yes, this is a good one to remind us of where we came from, where Chinese people and other Asians and Latin Americans are right now serving us and our material needs, and where we could wind up if we lose our vigilance. I am really proud of the young miners, who wore suits and ties and their mining hats (with those funny lamps) on Fifth Av in NYC to picket the offices of the MTA and the Berwind White Coal Company around 1920 at the height of so called prosperity here to disclose to the public the unfair labor practices of a supplier to NYC (home of many workers unions then) and a board member of the MTA who also just happened to be the kid brother of the mega-coal operator and landed a sweet heart deal without competitive bidding (sound familiar??? If not check out Winter Soldier 2008 http://www.ivaw.org/wintersoldier/testimony on corporate dealing and our current 'elected' officials and their friends at Halliburton and Blackrock in your current war and the money they are making from the public purse without competitive bidding). It just goes to show you that these young foreigners, despite everything they had seen in their own despotic countries and now this one, maintained some tinge of faith that average American people would do right by them. I am infuriated and like my dad says, we are half the German Teutonic Protestant farmers stock so indignant about this kind of injustice, and mad that our fellow Americans can be so blind and indifferent. Hopefully, when they start suffering themselves they will wake up from a long long sleep before they're too old to fight , their children are done for, or the air is gone. The farmers by the way, let the miners and their wives and kids move into tents on their fields when they were evicted from the model company towns and shared farm produce with them during one particularly nasty period. I am proud of my then German speaking ancestors and like to point that out to the www.Keepamericaenglish.org crowd. My family were not all native English speakers until well into the 20th Century after more than 200 yrs in PA. So much for the Native English speakers who were then lost in their indifference and self-aggrandizement during that industrialization, and may be again today. ( )
  brett_in_nyc | Apr 26, 2008 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0271015675, Paperback)

"Mildred Allen Beik’s account of a Pennsylvania coal town in the first three decades of this century is a powerful story of repression and resistance. This is both an important historical story and a lesson that Americans should keep in mind as they debate the merits of unions and the dismantling of the welfare-state in the late twentieth century."—John Bodnar, Indiana University.

In 1897 the Berwind-White Coal Mining Company founded Windber as a company town for its miners in the bituminous coal country of Pennsylvania. The Miners of Windber chronicles the coming of unionization to Windber, from the 1890s, when thousands of new immigrants flooded Pennsylvania in search of work, through the New Deal era of the 1930s, when the miners’ rights to organize, join the United Mine Workers of America, and bargain collectively were recognized after years of bitter struggle.

Mildred Allen Beik, a Windber native whose father entered the coal mines at age eleven in 1914, explores the struggle of miners and their families against the company, whose repressive policies encroached on every part of their lives. That Windber’s population represented twenty-five different nationalities, including Slovaks, Hungarians, Poles, Italians, and Carpatho-Russians, was a potential obstacle to the solidarity of miners. Beik, however, shows how the immigrants overcame ethnic fragmentation by banding together as a class to unionize the mines. Work, family, church, fraternal societies, and civic institutions all proved critical as men and women alike adapted to new working conditions and to a new culture. Circumstance, if not principle, forced miners to embrace cultural pluralism in their fight for greater democracy, reforms of capitalism, and an inclusive, working-class, definition of what it meant to be an American.

Beik draws on a wide variety of sources, including oral histories gathered from thirty-five of the oldest living immigrants in Windber, foreign-language newspapers, fraternal society collections, church manuscripts, public documents, union records, and census materials. The struggles of Windber's diverse working class undeniably mirror the efforts of working people everywhere to democratize the undemocratic America they knew. Their history suggests some of the possibilities and limitations, strengths and weaknesses, of worker protest in the early twentieth century.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:15:29 -0400)

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