Detail View: Colorado Coal Project: Interview with Earle Stuckert and Joe "Moose" Martinez, March 8, 1978, Delta, Colorado (part 3 of 4)

Collection Name: 
Colorado Coal Project
Title: 
Interview with Earle Stuckert and Joe "Moose" Martinez, March 8, 1978, Delta, Colorado (part 3 of 4)
Creator: 
Margolis, Eric, 1947-
Creator URI: 
http://id.loc.gov/authorities/names/n00101170
Creator: 
McMahan, Ronald L.
Creator URI: 
http://id.loc.gov/authorities/names/no94033808
Subject: 
Coal Strike (Colorado : 1913-1914)
Subject URI: 
http://id.worldcat.org/fast/1404237
Subject: 
Labor disputes--Colorado
Subject: 
Strikes and lockouts--Coal mining--Colorado
Subject URI: 
http://id.loc.gov/authorities/subjects/sh85128770
Subject: 
Coal miners--Personal narratives
Subject: 
Coal mines and mining
Subject URI: 
http://id.worldcat.org/fast/865355
Subject: 
Coal mines and mining--Colorado
Subject URI: 
http://id.loc.gov/authorities/subjects/sh97002598
Subject: 
Coal mines and mining--New Mexico
Subject: 
Interviews
Subject URI: 
http://id.worldcat.org/fast/1423832
Description: 
Stuckert first mined coal in the non-union Somerset mine, 1927, owned by the Utah Fuel Company. He describes it as a self-contained "company-owned camp." Workers were paid in the script and shopped at the company store. He describes 16-hour work-days, black lung (which was then known as "miner's asthma"), and no compensation for injuries. Still, he felt his employer was better than most coal mines in the state. The workforce (which included many ethnic groups) had no machines, only picks. They had no check weighman, to validate their coal output. During the Depression (1933), they were finally able to unionize with little trouble and could finally raise safety concerns with impunity. He is upset with recent efforts at a right-to-work law. He recalls organizing Hispanic miners in New Mexico, just before they were called to active duty in the National Guard. Early mining was more physically demanding, and there were few options for a company town and store. Underground mining has become more technical, specialized, and pay is based on hourly rates (not the tonnage produced). He describes John R. Lawson, a UMW district president in 1913/14, who was shot during a strike, but later became president of Rocky Mountain Fuel Company -- Josephine Roach had controlling interest; the union lent the company money, to keep miners working. The company then signed UMW contracts. John L. Lewis sent Stuckert to organize the union (U.M.W.A). The Ludlow strike (which eventually required intervention by the regular army) broke the union in that area. By contrast, in western Colorado Stuckert never saw a gun "in the hands of the company or the men." From about 1936-1946, Stuckert worked in New Mexico, where mines were mostly non-union. John L. Lewis sent him after the failure of the 1933 strike by the National Miners' Union -- which failed to get a contract and (Stuckert claims) was dominated by communists. Despite initial resistance, he eventually organized all the miners in the area. Stuckert now sees an effort to destroy the U.M.W.A. [Moose] had some organizer's training back east; he comes from a mining family on both sides. His disability is due to back injury from Thomson Creek and from the black lung. The company would lay off and avoid hiring "undesirable" union activists; similarly, the company would alter work assignments to favor employees they liked. Moose started mining in 1947, at the age of 18, after 3 years in the navy. Stuckert describes the Taft-Hartley injunction being used against the U.M.W.A in the mid-1940s. Soon, the railroads switched from coal to oil, further threatening the coal industry. Miners instituted a 3-day workweek in July 1949, which helped deplete coal stockpiles; in March 1950, miners went on strike. The govt. invoked the Taft-Hartley law (which the union ignored), levied fines upon the union and its president, and nationalized the mine. Eventually, all parties signed a good contract. Both Moose and Stuckert agree that current wages are good but that recent contracts have reduced benefits. They discuss the 1917 strike at Kebler Mine, Colorado, between U.M.W.A and Rocky Mountain Fuel. The U.M.W.A formed a corporation (Lou Merkin Company) to operate union mines. After the 1950 contract, the union worked toward a nation-wide agreement. Stuckert organized in New Mexico among Hispanic and Navajo miners, who were often treated even worse than their Anglo counterparts. By the mid-1930s, he succeeded in signing contracts for these miners but was later attacked by company goons at a Labor Day party. Similarly, in 1973 Moose was arrested while picketing in Wyoming, handcuffed and jailed. Stuckert was organized in Madrid, New Mexico, where Appalachian subcontractors opposed unionization. The union struck for 16 weeks, beginning 1 April 1941; the picket line became a violent confrontation. Silver Lorenzo assisted in the organizing effort. They discuss the compensation for black lung disease, which took so long to pass that many benefits went to widows: the miners themselves had died. Stuckert recalls John L. Lewis, his skill as a union organizer, even his work as a coal miner. Stuckert speaks of the current strike and feels it could have a positive outcome, unifying the union. The organizers now encounter larger corporations that hope to standardize contracts by driving them down in cost, not up. The miners express concern about new coalfields and oil shale deposits, especially their effects on the way of life in nearby towns and farms.
Description Type: 
summary
Description: 
Interview resumes on pg. 49 of pdf transcript; 10:00 -- Violence at a picket line in 1941 strike (pg. 53 of pdf transcript); 20:00 -- Black lung disease and difficulties of winning compensation, miners' influence on the union movement (pg. 59 of pdf transcript); 30:00 -- Miners were paid in company script, good only at the company store, the current strike (pg. 64 of pdf transcript); 40:00 -- Stuckert's admiration for John L. Lewis (pg. 69 of pdf transcript); 50:00 -- Union's role in the future of coal, diversity and unity in the mine workforce (pg. 74 of pdf transcript); 60:00 -- Future of coal and oil energy in America's West, effect of coal boom on towns (pg. 82 of pdf transcript).
Description Type: 
Segment Sequence
Publisher: 
University of Colorado Boulder Archives
Contributor: 
Martinez, Moose 1919-1989
Contributor: 
Stuckert, Earle 1906-1984
Date: 
1978-03-08
Type: 
Moving image
Format: 
video/mov
Identifier: 
141-Stuckert.mov
Identifier ARK: 
https://ark.colorado.edu/ark:/47540/dm4d1t69h6h4
Language: 
English
Relation: 
Title: An injured miner tells her story
Relation Type: 
isPartOf
Relation href: 
https://ark.colorado.edu/ark:/47540/mw931f89w51h
Relation: 
Title: Interview with Earle Stuckert and Joe "Moose" Martinez, March 8, 1978, Delta, Colorado (part 2 of 4)
Relation Type: 
isPartOf
Relation href: 
https://ark.colorado.edu/ark:/47540/dn8h0g97s92q
Relation: 
Title: Interview with Earle Stuckert and Joe "Moose" Martinez, March 8, 1978, Delta, Colorado
Relation Type: 
isFormatOf
Relation href: 
https://ark.colorado.edu/ark:/47540/xq6k6708k34j
Relation: 
Title: Interview with Earle Stuckert and Joe "Moose" Martinez, March 8, 1978, Delta, Colorado (part 4 of 4)
Relation Type: 
isPartOf
Relation href: 
https://ark.colorado.edu/ark:/47540/m09j634955st
Coverage (Spatial): 
Delta (Delta, Colorado, United States, North America) (populated place)
Coverage (Temporal): 
1890/1978
Coverage (Spatial): 
Dawson (historical) (Colfax, New Mexico, United States, North America) (populated place)
Coverage (Spatial): 
Mentmore Coal Mine (McKinley, New Mexico, United States, North America) (mine)
Coverage (Spatial): 
Kebler Mine (Huerfano, Colorado, United States, North America) (mine)
Coverage (Spatial): 
Thompson Creek Mine (Pitkin, Colorado, United States, North America) (mine)