Date of Graduation
The United Mine Workers of America Welfare and Retirement Fund was created in 1946, by the National Bituminous Coal Wage Agreement of that year. The Fund was to offer a complete system of social services for union members and their families, financed completely by coal operators through a tonnage royalty. Also the Fund was distinctive since it was the first industry-wide comprehensive union welfare program of its kind in the history of the American labor movement, and so represents an important facet of American labor-relations after the Second World War. Although management of the Fund by John L. Lewis and his associate, Miss Josephine Roche, was autocratic, both Lewis and Roche managed to keep the Fund solvent and providing benefits for the majority of the union's members, despite economic difficulties within the coal industry. Unfortunately, because of Lewis's leadership style, no one in the U.M.W.A. was capable of replacing him, with the possible exception of Joseph A. Yablonski. The result was that after Lewis's retirement, the union and later the Fund came under the control of a weak, incompetent, and corrupt administration headed by William A. (Tony) Boyle. In addition, the reformist group within the U.M.W.A., which successfully deposed Boyle in 1972 was just as incompetent. Due to Yablonski's murder in late 1969, the leadership of the insurgent group, which took the name Miners For Democracy, fell to Arnold Miller. Lacking in experience, Miller's first term ended with infighting between himself and his associates. This weakened the union and thereby the Fund just at the time when the major coal operators, anxious to cut cost, were becoming more aggressive in their relations with the union. The result was that in 1977-1978, the operators managed to end the Fund's medical program, and took over the health care of their miners through private insurance companies. A terrible loss for the miners, the end of the medical program represented the beginning of the "give back" era in American labor-relations.
Mulcahy, Richard Patrick, "Serving the union: The United Mine Workers of America Welfare and Retirement Fund, 1946-1978." (1988). Graduate Theses, Dissertations, and Problem Reports. 9468.