In the Kingdom of Coal: An American Family and the Rock That Changed the World

By Dan Rottenberg | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 15

Riding the Roller Coaster

The 1973 OPEC oil crisis found the United Mine Workers as bitter and disorganized as the Crow tribe. Its new president, Arnold Miller, couldn’t control the rank and file. Its international executive board was divided between Miller loyalists and holdovers from the Boyle era. John L. Lewis’s great virtue had been his ability to make a deal and stick to it. But now there was no one who could reliably speak for the union.

In the UMW’s new reformed leadership, Ted Leisenring believed he saw an opening for a new era in union-operator relations. Why not, he reasoned, make a reciprocal gesture? Thus in his capacity as chairman of the Bituminous Coal Operators Association, Ted offered the BCOA presidency to Joseph Brennan, the union loyalist who had worked for John L. Lewis and his successors since the late 1950s.

Brennan was the son of Mart Brennan, a UMW district president in the Pennsylvania anthracite region and an International board member. His family roots in the UMW extended back almost to the union’s origins in 1890. Joe Brennan himself held a bachelor’s degree in economics from Notre Dame and an MBA in marketing from American University. He had served on the UMW’s bargaining team during the 1971 national contract negotiations. He understood the union’s inner workings and was completely trusted by union men and operators alike. In effect Brennan would occupy a unique position as a protégé of both John L. Lewis and Ted Leisenring. But Ted believed Brennan’s presence in the BCOA president’s chair would signal to labor that the operators had the interests of both parties at heart.

Unfortunately for this strategy, Arnold Miller was too preoccupied with the ideal of democratizing the UMW to reciprocate such signals. In the process of cleaning out Boyle’s cronies, Miller replaced many veteran district

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In the Kingdom of Coal: An American Family and the Rock That Changed the World
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page i
  • Contents iii
  • Leisenring and Givens Family Trees ix
  • Chronology xi
  • Part I 11
  • Chapter 1 - A Rock That Burns 13
  • Chapter 2 - A Passage from the Mines 21
  • Chapter 3 - Holy Trinity 29
  • Chapter 4 - Boy Wonder of the Anthracite 37
  • Chapter 5 - Souls in Darkness 47
  • Chapter 6 - A Road Not Taken 57
  • Part II 65
  • Chapter 7 - The Ambitions of Henry Clay Frick 67
  • Chapter 8 - At War in the Coke Fields 75
  • Part III 99
  • Chapter 9 - Starting Over 101
  • Chapter 10 - The Rise of John L. Lewis 115
  • Chapter 11 - Utopia Goes Union 135
  • Chapter 12 - Be Careful What You Wish For 165
  • Chapter 13 - Prelude to Murder 187
  • Part IV 207
  • Chapter 14 - The Age of Uncertainty 209
  • Chapter 15 - Riding the Roller Coaster 231
  • Chapter 16 - Nowhere to Hide 245
  • Principal Characters 267
  • Notes 273
  • Bibliography 315
  • Acknowledgments 319
  • Index 321
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