Research Seminar: Capitalizing on Crisis

Research Seminar: Capitalizing on Crisis

Jonathan Free of Duke University will discuss his paper, “Capitalizing on Crisis: Environmental Regulation, Coal Power, and Workers Power, 1970-74.” 

Comment: Adam Rome, University of Delaware

Author's abstract for the seminar paper:

The early 1970s were a tumultuous time for the U.S. coal industry. As both operators and miners struggled to adapt to new federal mine safety legislation and a rank-and-file revolt shook the United Mine Workers of America, coal executives worked to place the industry in position to meet the needs of a nation facing a mounting energy crisis. This chapter explores how the pressures created by these developments changed the coal industry’s approach to labor relations, and ultimately accelerated the shift to surface—as opposed to underground—mining operations. Many industry leaders believed that federal safety regulations both decreased productivity in underground mines and made employer control over the workplace a legal necessity. The energy crisis and rank-and-file unionism exacerbated these concerns, and led operators to look to new methods of mining coal and managing labor.

The seminar is open to the public and is based on a paper that is circulated in advance. Those planning to attend are encouraged to read the paper before coming to the seminar. Copies may be obtained by emailing Carol Lockman, Reception at 6 p.m., seminar begins promptly at 6:30, and takes place in the Copeland Room of Hagley’s library building.

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