Unions before the Bar: Historic Trials Showing the Evolution of Labor Rights in the United States

By Elias Lieberman | Go to book overview

- 12 -
The Confusing Coroados (1914-1925)

CORONADO COAL COMPANY V. UNITED MINE WORKERS OF AMERICA (two cases)

I

No one has ever claimed that law is an exact science. There is much room for an individual judge or court to reflect his or its personal sense of justice in the decision rendered. The inexactness of law as a science is illustrated in the two Coronado cases with which this chapter deals. On practically the same set of facts, the Supreme Court of the United States reached two widely different conclusions regarding the legal activities of unions.

Franklin Bache, an engineer and mine operator, had come into the southwestern coal fields about 1897, and operated mines in both Oklahoma and Arkansas. In 1910, after dealing with the United Mine Workers' Union for seven years, the members of this Southwestern Coal Operators' Association agreed among themselves to break off relations with the union. Their mines were shut down. Bache, a leader of the association, advised that none of the members of the association should negotiate with the union, but some of them did not follow his advice. A number of them did negotiate and actually entered into collective labor agreements with the union. Bache himself held back. He attempted to run his Mammoth Vein Mine with strikebreakers, but the union miners marched to the pit and held a demonstration which was sufficiently impressive to scare away strikebreakers. Unable to carry out his plans, and aware of the fact that the other mine operators had settled with the union and

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