CHARLESTON, W.Va. — More than 42,000 coal miners in 10 states took part in wildcat strikes Wednesday that spread in Appalachia and the Midwest. Reports of violence and blockades mounted as coal companies sought relief from the courts.
"It looks like the bulk of the industry is shut down," said Taylor Pensoneau, vice president of the Illinois Coal Assn.
More than 7,000 miners in Illinois and 700 in Ohio joined the wildcat strike Wednesday in sympathy with about 1,900 United Mine Workers members striking Pittston Coal Group Inc. in West Virginia, Virginia and Kentucky. More than 4,000 additional workers in Pennsylvania also walked off the job.
A key issue in the dispute is Pittston's insistence on production seven days a week, 24 hours a day. Union miners have never worked on Sundays without overtime pay, and many UMW strategists believe the Pittston case is crucial.