From Ohio History Central
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In 1890, miners unions affiliated with the Knights of Labor and the National Progressive Union united together to create the United Mine Workers of America. This union represented all types of employees affiliated with the coalmine industry, and it worked in conjunction with the American Federation of Labor. Mine workers during this era faced harsh working conditions. Lack of safety mechanisms on machines endangered the workers. Pay commonly amounted to less than one dollar for a twelve to fourteen-hour workday, making it difficult for miners to pay their expenses. Mine owners also commonly paid their employees in scrip, company-printed money, rather than in actual United States currency. Scrip was only usable at company-owned stores, where prices were significantly higher. Finally, many mine workers were actually children, with mine owners commonly hiring boys as young as ten years of age to work in the mines. The United Mine Workers of America organized to improve working conditions for the miners.
During the 1980s and the 1990s, tensions within the United Mine Workers eased. Unfortunately for the workers, they now faced new problems in the workplace. Automation of the mines improved working conditions, but it also reduced the need for miners. Also, the growing popularity of other energy sources, especially natural gas, also reduced the need for coalminers and a desire by employers to cut their employees benefits to reduce company expenditures. Union membership declined precipitously. In 1998, 240,000 miners belonged to the United Mine Workers. Fifty years earlier, the union had 500,000 members. To enhance its voice, the United Mine Workers joined the AFL-CIO in 1989.
[[Category:Industrialization and Urbanization]]