Soft coal miners return to work, Red Lion, PA, June 1, 1946.
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Soft coal miners return to work ... miners stand in the elevator cage, ready to descend into the H.C. Frick coke company mine to work their first shift since settlement of the soft coal strike.

Credit: Image Donated by Corbis-Bettmann

After the end of a no-strike pledge agreed to by unions during World War II, the nation witnessed the greatest wave strikes in American history. On April 1, 1946, 400,000 bituminous coal miners–more than 75,000 of them in Pennsylvania–went out on strike for better wages, health benefits, and safety regulations. When United Mine Workers leader John L. Lewis refused to end the strike in May, President Harry S. Truman seized the mines and ordered the strikers back to work. Defying the president, most stayed out until December, when the coal companies agreed to the bulk of Lewis's demands.

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