The Strike Begins
On March 30, 1894, the state convention of the United Mine Workers of Alabama met in Birmingham. The officials of the union realized that the time for decision and action had arrived. Mine labor had now been reduced to its lowest level of subsistence, working hours had been reduced and miners had failed to gain desperately needed concessions. Collective action by the miners was now brought into play. It was hoped that operators, faced with organized opposition, would make concessions; but if the reality of miner unity was not enough to gain alleviation, the ultimate weapon of the strike lurked just behind the scenes.
In its first action the state convention appointed a committee to interview the managers of the coal companies. The attitude of the convention was conciliatory, and it ordered its committee to "see if better work could be guaranteed by the miners making proper concessions. . . ."1 The miners' moderate attitude, it was hoped, might create an atmosphere in which posi