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2 l l l The Face of Mining The Coal Industry in the Ruhr and Northeastern Pennsylvania Between 1870 and 1914, the demand for coal to power the ongoing industrialization of Germany and the United States caused the mine industries of both the Ruhr and northeastern Pennsylvania to expand dramatically . Annual coal production in the Ruhr increased in this period nearly tenfold, from 12 million to 110 million tons, with most of this fuel going to fire the blast furnaces that enabled the German steel industry to become the largest in Europe. The increase in coal production in northeastern Pennsylvania was also impressive, rising from 14 million to more than 91 million tons; the coal mined provided the energy supplying the majority of eastern railroads, various other industries, and nearly the entire home-heating market in the eastern United States.1 Since the mechanization of the coal industry in each region was not widespread until after World War I, the expansion of production was contingent on the employment of an everincreasing number of laborers, including thousands of Poles. In the Ruhr, the overall number of workers employed in the mining industry rose from 51,000 in 1870 to approximately 400,000 in 1914. Similarly, employment in northeastern Pennsylvania rose in the same period from 35,000 to more than 180,000.2 Coal in both regions was king, and Poles, in particular, were becoming this king’s indispensable servants. The sizable contribution of Polish-speaking migrants to the success of the mining industry cannot be overstated. In the early years of migration, nearly 90 percent of Poles were employed in the mines in both the Ruhr and northeastern Pennsylvania. This percentage decreased after the turn of the century, though mining remained the leading type of employment for Poles. Overall, approximately 25 percent of mine workers in each region The Coal Industry in the Ruhr and Northeastern Pennsylvania l 39 were of Polish origin by 1914.3 This chapter analyzes the similarities and differences in the coal industries, paying specific attention to employer and working-class organization; the division of labor and ethnic stratification in the workplace; coal markets, wages, and income as well as levels of corporate welfare; government policy and public attitudes to the mine industry; and strike patterns. Employer and Working-Class Organization As output and employment in the mining industry expanded, mineownership in both regions became increasingly concentrated. In the Ruhr, the consolidation of industry was facilitated by the disengagement of the Prussian government from direct regulation of production, marketing, and labor oversight of the mines during the middle of the nineteenth century. Among the various laws enacted after 1850, the most important was the Allgemeine Berggesetz (General Mining Law) of 1865, which acknowledged mineowners’ rights to independence from the state in economic affairs. Although some general oversight of the mining industry remained, most notably in the form of the Bergämter (State Mining Offices) that oversaw the enforcement of various workplace regulations, deregulation encouraged the investment of substantial amounts of capital, and the industry was soon dominated by large privately held corporations or joint-stock companies. As the historian S. H. F. Hickey notes, “Whereas in 1885 only seven companies owned more than one mine, by 1910 a mere nine firms were producing around twothirds of the Ruhr’s total output.” In addition, many steel companies in the Ruhr such as Krupp also owned their own mines in order to vertically integrate resources.4 The increasing centralization of the German coal industry led to the establishment of employer associations and ultimately a coal syndicate. In 1858, the first employer association, known as the Bergbau Verein (Mine Owners’ Association) was founded in Dortmund in order to support employers’ attempts to increase worker productivity. This organization quickly enlisted all the major producers in the Ruhr and eventually received formal recognition as the industry’s representative body by the government in 1893. Other employer organizations gradually developed, such as the Ausstandssicherungsverband (Strike Insurance Association) in 1890, designed to offer companies strike relief provided they did not negotiate with workers during strikes, and the Zechen Verband (Mine Association), 40 l The Face of Mining a federation formed in 1908 to coordinate employers’ industrial relations policies. Finally, the Kohlen-Syndikat (Coal Syndicate) highlighted the full extent to which the coal industry became consolidated. Founded in 1893 under the tutelage of Emil Kirdorf, the Kohlen-Syndikat controlled over 90 percent of the coal market and assigned members production quotas, set coal prices...


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