In May of 1849, a strike was ordered to force the mining industry to compromiseon the grievances of the miners. It was enforced by bands of miners, often armed withweapons, who went from colliery to colliery compelling non-sympathetic miners to strikewith them. The strike lasted for several weeks mainly because the coal mine ownersrefused to meet with the union leaders to arrange for conditions to terminate the strike. After several more weeks of negotiations, an agreement was settled upon to cease thestrike because of compromises by both parties. The organization survived until the fallof 1850 when it was disbanded because the union president and founder, John Bates of Saint Clair, absconded with the contents of its treasury.
Although the General Bates Union failed when John Bates abandoned the union,it was highly unlikely that the organization would survive for an extended period of time.The organization lacked many resources that a larger union could provide. The unionmembers were miners who eventually would give in to the demands of the mine ownersbecause the union did not have large monetary resources to support the cause. Minerswere left without pay, food, and sometime shelter while the union struggled to raisefunds to maintain the strikes. The General Bates Union also had flaws in itsorganization. John Bates did not have the backing of major investors, lawyers, andtechnicians to support the strikes. There were no supporting structures to branch outand quickly organize the miners in the different coal fields. Often the miners were tornbetween monetary gain through continued work and the desire to improve conditions byparticipating in the strike. Often, these predicaments would cause the strikes to failbecause the employees of one mine may have been persuaded to strike while many
J. Walter Coleman,
The Molly Maguire Riots: Industrial Conflict in the Pennsylvania CoalRegion
(New York: Arno Press, 1969), 23.
Kyle Snyder The Molly MaguiresPage