The miners usually work in shifts, and can work for 10 days at a time. Some go down before dawn and return seven to twelve hours later. The drive to the front takes about an hour each way, so we are actually mining for about six hours. There is no designated rest time.
There used to be a 20-minute break when everything shut down, but that no longer exists. You just have to take water when you can. There is a lot of dust in the face, but sometimes it is too hot to wear a mask. The growing crescendo of public anger was paving the way for drastic measures.
Roosevelt feared that the attitude of the operators would double the burden of those who opposed socialist action. Carroll Wright pointed out that public men and industrialists were fast becoming state socialists where the coal industry was concerned, and that even Congressmen were advocating revolutionary change, 42.They entered the steel cages and began their fall of nearly two hundred feet to the sooty floor of the mine. The oldest of them was sixty-two years old, the youngest only nineteen. They lived on narrow, potholed streets in small northern West Virginia mining communities called Idamay, Enterprise and Shinnston.
One had been mining coal for forty-two years, another for only eight days. Many of the men on the walleye shift were veterans. In 1968, 1,400 men from Marion County had fought in Vietnam. Miners on shifts of that length were 32% more likely to suffer work-related deaths and 73% more likely to be involved in an incident that injured multiple miners.
Teresa Lenich said her son told her that miners were pressured to work overtime, and that he felt that the work he did on the night shift required twice as many miners as he was assigned. Miners in remote coal camps often depended on the company shop, a shop that miners had to use because they were often only paid in company vouchers or coal vouchers, redeemable at the shop, which often charged higher prices than other shops.