The signing of the 1939 contract did not necessarily mean that Harlan County was peaceful. From an outward viewpoint, everything seemed to be going along fairly well but the inside story was different. The Harlan County coal operators had a contract shoved down their neck, which they did not like, by the power of the United States Government's Conciliation Service, plus the sword of Damocles hanging over their heads, the threat of a re-trial of the conspiracy charges against them. They had signed the contract reluctantly and immediately began to drag their heels in living up to it. Of course, Mrs. Titler and I were still under bond on charges arising out of the July 12th riot at Stanfill. On July 26, a special grand jury in the Harlan Circuit Court returned 102 indictments with recommendations for bonds totaling more than a half million dollars. Among those indicted, together with recommended bonds, were the following: William Turn-blazer, conspiracy to hinder military organization, $10,000, and banding and confederating, $5,000; George J. Titler, aiding and abetting malicious shooting and wounding, $5,000, conspiracy to hinder military organization, $10,000, and banding and confederating, $5,000; Mrs. George J. Titler, banding and confederating, $5,000.
The Titler family was still "wanted". I kept looking .for our pictures on the post office bulletin board. The Judge, who had met Mrs. Titler in church on several occasions, reduced her bond to $1,000 and said he didn't believe she would leave Harlan while her husband was there.
Now that all the members of the Harlan County Coal Operators' Association were under contract and also federal indictment, 225 miners also indicted in state court, the attorneys for both sides started legal manipulations to clean the slate and start anew. All cases against both sides were dropped. This action conserved the best interests of all parties concerned and brought Harlan County back into the Commonwealth of Kentucky. (For fifteen years, it had flourished as a separate state.)
This did not mean that Harlan County suddenly became a paradise for union coal miners. The operators had lost a battle and been forced into signing a contract. But the job of getting them to negotiate and bargain collectively in good faith was no easy task. Litigation and small acts of violence still lie ahead. After disposition of charges against UMWA defendants in the Stanfill riot, the next order of business was clearing the board of several hundred-eviction cases. This was placed in the hands of the attorneys, James Golden and W. R. Lay, who did a remarkable job of clearing up this phase of the feud. One device used by the operators to stall on contract compliance involved company doctors. Even after the contract was signed, when men took medical examinations to see if they were physically fit to work in the mines, the operators connived with their doctors to turn union men down. It was then necessary for the union to take them to other doctors for an impartial physical examination, after which we had to use the fairly slow grievance machinery in the contract to force the operators to put these men to work. The company doctor problem, and the hospital problem to which it was closely related, had always plagued Harlan County coal miners. Medical care was a major headache during strike periods because the operators would not permit company doctors to treat anyone living in their camps that was on strike. No outside doctor would go into the camps because it would have been a breach of medical ethics to do so. Therefore, it was necessary for us to fetch the sick from camps on strike before they could receive medical care or hospitalization.
Because of this situation, Mrs. Titler became the guardian angel of all pregnant women in the coal camps or any women or children ailing from other causes. One young lady by the name of Davis, living in the Clover Fork camp of Kitts, was expecting. She had a kidney ailment and it was necessary for Mrs. Titler to go into the camp with an ambulance to bring her out and take her to a hospital. The father of the aforementioned lady, Harrison Reedy, was a deputy sheriff, about six feet three inches tall, weighing two hundred thirty pounds. It fell to his lot to serve a warrant on Mrs. Titler the second time she was arrested and taken to jail. This was only ten days after Mrs. Titler had favored his daughter.
He was a mean-looking man with the heart of a lamb, so when it became necessary for him to serve the warrant, he brought his wife along to the house to serve the warrant and he cried the whole way to the jail while Mrs. Titler and his wife walked down the street ahead of him. Mrs. Titler has had many a laugh in telling the story of the crying deputy sheriff taking her to jail. She always contends that he was the kindest man in Harlan and was out of place as a deputy sheriff.
Throughout the several months' shutdown in 1939, it became the duty of Mrs. Titler to look after the layettes of the expectant mothers in the coal camps. This became quite a chore and it was not unusual for her to buy twenty-five layettes a week. Every time I went home for lunch, the front room would be full of women sipping tea and talking "shop" while Mrs. Titler took their applications for layettes and listened to their troubles. Because of the crowded condition of the living room, on several occasions it was necessary for me to go through the kitchen door in order to get into the house. One day I eavesdropped at the kitchen door to see what women talked about when they assembled in groups of four or five. It seems that two of the women who were requesting layettes were from the same family, a mother and daughter. In the conversation, it was brought out that one of the women was having her first baby and the other her ninth. The mother, who was having the ninth child, said she lived according to the Bible. She said: "The Bible says 'Go ye forth and multiply'." Whereupon the daughter spoke up and said: "Mrs. Titler, don't let mother pull your leg. She wasn't thinking of the Bible when she got that way. I know from experience."
The conversation then changed to the subject of large families. A woman from Liggett said that the largest families in Harlan County came from her hometown. She said it was not uncommon for a woman in Liggett to have twelve or thirteen children. She said: "Why, loe Glancy has eleven and he is only thirty-eight years old and is a grandpap."
Some one asked why the families in Liggett were bigger than anywhere else in the county. One woman volunteered the information that the coal train came up Caterns Creek in the morning about four o'clock and woke everybody up. She said it was too late to go back to sleep and it was too early to get up and this was what accounted for the big families. Everybody laughed. I didn't think it was funny for a poor, tired coal loader to be awakened at four in the morning by a coal drag.
To the striking miners of Harlan County and their wives, Mrs. Titler became a living legend. She was their Mother lones (a fiery old-time labor organizer who worked with coal miners all over the nation) and Florence Nightingale rolled into one. Her complete lack of physical fear was amazing to all who knew her. She always said that the gun thugs, ruthless and cold-blooded as they were, would not kill a woman. In retrospect, I am sure she was right. Even the gun thugs were bound by the "code of the hills" or Harlan County custom, whichever title you prefer. That code included deep respect for women and also demands that the male protect the female with his life if need be. Many outsiders believed that Harlan County males were rude when they saw a man walking down the street with his wife trailing two or three steps behind him. This custom is left over from pioneer days when the man of the family walked down the forest trails ahead of his family to look for wild animals and Indians and to protect his wife and children from them.
If she had any characteristic that exceeded her fearlessness, it was her generosity. In the four years we lived in Harlan, she gave away most of her own clothes, made payments on cars, washing machines and radios that were in danger of being lost to the finance company and also paid hospital and doctor bills. When we arrived in Charleston, West Virginia, in 1941, we had three thousand dollars worth of lOU's, (which we burned), sixty dollars in cash and a million dollars worth of beautiful memories.
Violence was not quite ended in Southeastern Kentucky. It slowed down considerably, but four gunfights of note took place while I was still a part of the District 19 family. The first occurred on September 30, 1939, when UMWA organizer George Gilbert was ambushed on Forester's Creek. Gilbert appeared on crutches before County Judge Ball to swear out warrants against John Osborne and Walter Blanton, of Layman, in connection with the shooting, after which he was treated at a hospital in Pineville. Paul Reed told reporters that doctors removed eighteen buckshot from Gilbert's knee.
About four and a half months later, a much more serious occurrence — the murder of a fine young man — took place at Crockett, near the Leslie County line in Bell County.
The owners of the Clover Fork Coal Company in Harlan County, the Whitfield family, owned a mine at Crockett where UMWA Local Union 7644 had jurisdiction. The local union president was Lewis Hatmaker, a young, outstanding man about thirty years of age. On February 15, 1940, a neighbor who worked with him at the Crockett mine, known as Kentucky Ridge Coal Company, and a close friend of Superintendent Ed. Whitfield, Bob Helton, came to Hatmaker's house with a shotgun on the pretense of going hunting. He left his gun on the porch and came into the Hatmaker house and talked a while and was treated to a couple of drinks of moonshine, according to Ruth Hatmaker, Lewis Hatmaker's wife. The men used pickled corn as a chaser, she said.
After spending about two hours in the Hatmaker house, Helton asked Hatmaker to take a walk. They walked over to the Kentucky Ridge Company commissary where Helton shot Hatmaker in the back in cold blood without provocation, then turned his gun in to the company commissary, who apparently owned it.
At the trial, the prosecution checked for evidence to show that an officer of the company had hired Helton to shoot Hatmaker, but Helton would not talk. He was indicted on February 17, tried and sentenced on March 9, 1940 to life in state prison. There was no reason given at the trial for shooting Hatmaker. It was thought by people close to the situation that Hatmaker was exercising his duties as a local union president too well to suit the union-hating Whitfields, and was ordered executed. On April 1, 1941, the nation's mines were shut down when operators, including those in Harlan, refused to sign a contract with the UMWA. During this short strike, one of the most vicious mass murders in Harlan County history took place at Crummies Creek. The murderer was gun thug Bill Lewis, who was killed four months later, and his victims, all union men, were Virgil Hampton, Oscar Goodlin, Charles Ruth and Ed Tye. Details of the Crummies Creek massacre were told earlier in this book. Soon after this, the Harlan operators signed a contract with UMWA that included the union shop clause. The last "battle" in District 19 took place more than a year later. By January 1, 1941, Harlan and Bell Counties were 95 per cent organized. The only nasty non-union outpost was the Fork Ridge mine just across the Kentucky line in Tennessee, a short distance from Middlesboro. The mine was operated by C. W. (Dusty) Rhodes, president and general manager. Searchlights were placed on the tipple and plug-uglies guarded the mine property with tommy guns. Every time a union organizer attempted to talk with a Ford Ridge employee, he took his life in his hands.
Rhodes was a large, reckless young man who arrogantly told union men that if miners attempted to picket his mine, he would slaughter them. For months, he and Bob Robinson, a former Tennessee highway patrolman, had been parading around with their Tommy guns and challenging the miners to a fight. More than half of the employees had been signed up by the UMWA, but Rhodes ignored their demands and hired more thugs.
On April 15, 1941, the union decided to post a picket line in the safest place they could find. The pickets chose stations where they could take cover in case they were attacked by company guards, and then moved to a strategic place near the mine. When the caravan of cars came to a stop at the state line and started to unload, the fifty pickets were greeted with a broadside from fifteen or eighteen armed guards who had word they were coming and had preceded the pickets to the state line. On the first volley, one picket was killed and more than a dozen were wounded, nine seriously enough to be hospitalized.
When James Ridings, A. T. Pace and George Gilbert, union representatives, were getting out of their car, Gilbert was shot in the leg, and Ridings, in addition to having his necktie shot off, also had his clothes perforated by bullets. The pickets took cover behind trees, rocks and cars and returned the fire, killing Rhodes, the company president, E. W. Silvers, company vice president, and Robinson, the company guard.
Sam Evans, a union member, was killed. The nine men in the hospital who were jointly charged, along with Turnblazer, Ridings and Pace in the Tennessee murder warrant were: R. W. Lawson, Bell County deputy sheriff; Alford Smith; Walter Pilly; Earl Alley; John Holland; Clayton Webb; Millard Forester and A. J. Napier. Some of these men were from Kentucky and some from Tennessee.
The battle raged across the state line and more than a thousand shots were fired. When the smoke had cleared away, a question arose as to which state had jurisdiction in the courts. When engineers from the two states tried to determine where the state line really was, they found some one had moved the line stake 400 feet over into Tennessee and that Kentucky had paid for paving four hundred feet to road in Tennessee to bring the hard-top road four hundred feet closer to the mine. Finally the engineers decided that Rhodes, Silver and Robinson had been killed in Tennessee. Where the union men were killed or wounded was immaterial, because no one would be tried for their killing.
While the two states were trying to determine who had jurisdiction, Ridings and Pace were advised by counsel to disappear in order to keep from rotting in jail while the states argued over jurisdiction. They went to Huntington and Charleston, West Virginia and registered in a Charleston hotel under aliases of Smith and Jones. When the 'phone rang in their room, it was a long distance operator asking for Mr. Smith or Mr. Jones. Pace had forgotten his assumed name and told the operator that she had the wrong number. The call was from their attorney, who finally contacted them and advised them to come to Middlesboro and make bond. They did so; posting five thousand dollars bond each. Floyd Ball of Middlesboro and William Russell signed their bond. On April 24, Governor Prentice Cooper of Tennessee asked extradition on Turnblazer, Ridings, Pace and the nine wounded union men in the Middlesboro Hospital. Ridings and Pace were placed in jail in Tazewell, Tennessee, without bond, charged with first-degree murder. While Pace and Ridings were in the Claiborne County jail, Mrs. Pace and Mrs. Ridings went to Tazewell to visit their husbands. After they left the jail and started back to Middlesboro, Mrs. Ridings suggested to Mrs. Pace that the best way to help the men was to pray for them. Mrs. Pace was not a praying woman, so she suggested to Mrs. Ridings: "You pray and I will cuss and then we will see what happens." This system seemed to have worked fine. Ridings and Pace were soon free on bond after habeas corpus proceedings were instituted by union counsel.
Ridings and Pace went to trial December 8, 1941, for murder and a jury of Claiborne County citizens promptly found them "not guilty". The trial for murder did not mar the fine reputation enjoyed over the years by these two men. As a matter of fact, many people felt they were entitled to medals for service rendered to the community beyond the call of duty.
Rhodes and Robinson had attempted to rule by force rather than reason. The gun rule they had established was the Frankenstein monster that destroyed them. They lived by the gun and died by the gun. Fork Ridge later produced coal under a union contract, a contract paid for with blood and sorrow. This was the last gun battle in southeastern Kentucky and/or Tennessee over the UMWA's right to organize. The feudal coal barons learned a valuable lesson from this encounter, namely that times were changing. They could no longer murder miners like dogs with impunity and with the protection of state governments. They had been taught that workingmen, for the first time in American history, were thought of as first-class citizens.
Thinking back, I realize that the Harlan County gun thugs in reality got nothing for their efforts to drive out the union. Most of them died violent deaths. The ones who survived or died natural deaths had their consciences to live with. How they did it, I do not know. Below is a partial list of those gun thugs who died as they had lived — violently. Bill Randolph, who quit a miner's job to become a trigger-happy thug at Three Point, after killing five men and becoming Chief of Police of Harlan Town, shot behind the ear when he was not looking by Clarence Middleton. Lonnie Ball, committed suicide. Wash Irwin, assassinated by his "buddies"
Frank White, murdered by a paid killer. Carl Scott and Joe Alien, both killed by a single shotgun blast of a confederate. John Middleton, killed by Bill Dean.
Perry G. Noe, killed by John Lee. Bryan Middleton (the Sheriffs brother) who was never a thug and the best man in his family, shot by Shorty Baumgardner. Crist Patterson, assassinated by his confederates. Charles Rose, shot by one of his pals while driving a car through Brookside. Bill Lewis, killed in 1941 supposedly by Bill Dean, in the Harlan County Courthouse while guarding ballot boxes. One-eyed Earl Jones, died in a gunfight. Among those who died natural deaths was the kingpin thug, Theodore Middleton, who died of a heart attack in 1942 before he had a chance to enjoy fully the loot he had acquired during his heyday as High Sheriff of Harlan County. Another thug, Alien Bollen, died of cancer. Several of the operators died of insanity or lingering ailments. One of them, Sherman Howard, was shot to death while trying to highjack a ballot box.
Three of the meanest of the deputies are still living. The chief thug, Ben Unthank, is living quietly in Harlan, trying to atone for his sins as a Deacon in the Baptist Church. Lee Hubbard has moved to Tennessee and is reported to be preaching the gospel as a minister of the Church of God. Lee Fleenor lives in Southwest Virginia, where he works as a small coal miner-operator. Let it be said in behalf of Lee Fleenor, that since he went to Virginia he has turned out to be a good citizen in every respect.
Reading the history of Harlan County can only bring one to these conclusions:
(1) Might does not make right;
(2) Right will always prevail over wrong in the long run if the "right" people have the courage and tenacity to hang on to their principles and properly present their case in the courts of public opinion.
The United States Supreme Court is the highest court in our land when it comes to interpreting the written law. The court of public opinion is supreme in interpreting the unwritten law. Only men's individual consciences can determine the difference between right and wrong.
These hired guns that sold their souls for $125 a month died before their time and no doubt faced their Creator with a guilty conscience and a worried mind.
What does a man gain if he acquires worldly things and loses his soul?
I am of the opinion that every one of these late deputies in the light of their fates would live different lives if they had the opportunity to live again.
With the union men who took part in the organizing of Harlan County, it is a different story. I am convinced that as these men look back over their lives, they all conclude that the course they charted was good and right and if the opportunity presented itself again, they would not change their course in any way. Every Union man who contributed anything to the task in Harlan County carries a proud feeling close to his heart that he is leaving to posterity a better world in which to live.
Organizing Harlan County was not just a job to me. It was the most vivid four years of my life, an experience I will never forget. The men who worked with me were — those who live still are — the best and truest friends I have ever had. It was in Harlan County that I had my real baptism in fire and blood and learned all over again how much the United Mine Workers of America meant to thousands of men who were willing to die that it might live. To me, the UMWA's organizing drive in Harlan County will ever be a symbol to those who carry on in the labor movement. Harlan County was organized — but labor's agony will never end.
Up until now deals only with the atrocities in Harlan County, Kentucky in the organization campaign from 1937 until 1940. This chapter of the book will deal with atrocities in other parts of the country in the effort of the UMWA to organize the unorganized. In 1910 Governor Glascock was the governor of West Virginia; and in 1911 the coal operators brought Baldwin-Felt detectives into the state as "pug-uglies" and gun thugs to control the coal miners. In addition to that on Cabin Creek and Paint Creek the state used the National Guard and federal troops at Cabin Creek to control the miners who were striking for better conditions.
On the first day of January, 1912 Dr. H. D. Hatfield Republican was elected governor of West Virginia. He immediately cleared the state of National guardsmen and federal troops in the coal strike. He took his medicine satchel and went into the tent colonies at Cabin Creek and Paint Creek and administered medical aid to the miners who were living there and had no such aid.
He became the idol of the coal miners of West Virginia. After he had completed his term as governor they elected him to the United States Senate. He was a great humanitarian. The state of West Virginia was in turmoil over unionism and the large Pocahontas Operators Association, who formed the Baldwin-Felts Detective Agencies under the leadership of Tom Felts, had them controlling the coal miners of the Pocahontas coalfields and also Mingo County, West Virginia. This constabulary was formed in Bramwell, W. Va., and the home of eight millionaire coal operators. Bramwell was also the birthplace of the yellow dog contract.
In Logan County, West Virginia they had their own police force made up of the sheriffs force under the leadership of Don Chafin who was sheriff at the time in Logan County. The Logan County sheriff was paid so much money for each man he recruited as a deputy sheriff who would police coal miners and these people were ruthless.
In Mingo County, West Virginia while they were evicting coal miners in 1911 a friendly constable by the name of Sid Hatfield shot and killed three Baldwin-Felts Detective agents who were evicting coal miners from their homes. He had a cousin who was the sheriff of McDowell County by the name of Maginnis Hatfield. He sent word to Sid Hatfield that if he would come to McDowell County and lay down his pistols, they would give him a fair trial. He and his wife went to Welch, West Virginia to stand trial and the Baldwin-Felts Detective agents were waiting in hiding to ambush him. They shot Sid Hatfield down on the courthouse steps and killed him. Maginnis Hatfield, his cousin, had traveled by train to Williamson, West Virginia, instead of staying in Welch to protect him.
There were three Hatfields, the governor and Sid Hatfield who were friendly with the coal miners and the United Mine Workers of America, and Maginnis Hatfield, a tool of the Pocahontas Coal Operators Association.
In the Winding Gulf field at the same time there was in Beckley, West Virginia a sheriff by the name of Cook who got into an argument with coal miners on strike at Stanford, West Virginia and killed twelve coal miners on the picket line. At that time a man could not visit a brother who was living in a coal camp at Winding Gulf during Christmas or Thanksgiving without getting the consent of the superintendent of the coal company.
A northern West Virginia strike abounded at the same time and only part of the coal miners were organized, and large companies refused to recognize the union, which caused all of the strife.
All of the districts of the United Mine Workers of America, when they came into the union as a district, came in as an autonomous body. All of them lost their autonomy because most of the time the men who were elected many times were not qualified to serve as district officers and the organization would have to be taken over by the International Union and when they did the districts were made provisional under the leadership of the International Union. The different districts that were autonomous that lost their autonomy through mismanagement were District 19 in 1922 for one with a membership of 18,000 men under contract, which had a convention to elect officers after the districts had been organized by the international organizers. When the convention was convened a tall good-looking mountain preacher named Frank Keller was asked to offer prayer and at the finish he offered such a good prayer that he was elected president of District 19. The district had 18,000 members under contract, $100,000. in cash and an office building. Within one year their assets were all gone and every member was in debt $4.50. Since that time District 19 has been running successfully under a provisional arrangement. In District 17 at the same time the district was under the leadership of two fellows by the name of Moonie, Sec. and Keenie, Pres. Bill Blizzard was a sub-district president. When the district got into trouble Blizzard bundled the charter of the district up and took it to the International Union Headquarters in Indianapolis, Indiana. He told them they were not able to run the district and it became a provisional district.
In District 29 in 1926 one of the field workers had been accused and found guilty of burning down a tipple belonging to a non-union coal operator by the name of Bill McHill. Earl Houck was sent into the district to settle up the judgment of $40,000 that was owed in the courts for damages. After the details were completed Houck said to Bill McKell, "Well I guess that is all.” but McKell said, "Not quite. You have a man in here by the name of Lawrence Dwyer that you will have to get rid of because he is the only man on the district payroll that I have not been able to get on my payroll." Houck said, "You don't mean that." McKell pulled out his drawer in his desk to show where he had bought 2 Model-T Fords for 2 field workers in District 12, Illinois. District 12 was one of the largest districts in the International Union of the UMWA. We had 80,000 men under the leadership of Frank Farrington. Farrington sold the district out to the Peabody Coal Company for $20,000 and a trip to Europe and was caught at it. John L. Lewis kicked him out with the toe of his shoe.
In District 23 in 1922 the president of the district was Lonnie Jackson and during negotiations when the international union was negotiating a contract he went out and negotiated a contract with the West Kentucky Coal Companies for $2 per day less than the scale that was being sought by the International Union and the contract made by District 12 across the Mississippi River in Illinois. Frank Farrington wanted to take the District 12 80 thousand miners and march into District 23 and abrogate the contract. John L. Lewis said "that no contract negotiated in good faith by the UMWA would ever be abrogated." The $2 per day wage scale less than Illinois wage scale became effective in 1922 and lasted until 1970 when President W. A. Boyle in negotiations wiped out the $2 differential. Other districts lost their autonomy the same way as the ones listed previously. That is why so many of the districts today have been taken over by the International union as provisional districts. This is what made the organization as strong as it is today. The international union appointed leadership with experience who knew how to run a district instead of having anyone elected who makes a big political speech and promises everything in the book.
In Indiana, which is an autonomous, district today. For fourteen years there were seven elections and at each election a new person was elected to run the union because the discarded ones always made promises they could not fulfill and as soon as the term was up they were kicked out, and the new men were put into office. The district was always operating with new leadership without experience.
When these new people would go to negotiate with the coal operators they usually faced someone who had lots of experience. The coal operators used to always hire men to represent them who had been experienced with the United Mine Workers of America; such men as Elza McCulough; Harvey Cartright, Indiana; Sam Ballentine, Iowa; Mike Carroll, U. S. Steel; Duncan Kennedy, District 17; and Melvin Treola, District 17. Another man, who had once been a vice president of the UMWA, was hired to serve out his later years as a representative of the Northern West Virginia Coal Operators Association. The mineworkers were at a disadvantage with inexperienced leadership while the coal operators were enjoying the talents of men who had been trained by the United Mine Workers of America and kicked out.
The autonomy failed from 1890 until 1970 and it will fail again in most cases.
In 1928 the elected officers of Illinois defied the International Union and had an injunction taken out against John L. Lewis when he tried to take over the district. Lewis could not travel into Illinois for three years to visit his mother in Sangamon County. That is what happens when districts are given authority to run their own business when they defy the International Union. This is why the International Union must have control of all districts, and when a district president falters he must be taken out and experienced man put into office. When I left Harlan County, Kentucky in 1940 I came to West Virginia as a field representative in District 50 and organized several plants around Charleston, West Virginia such as the Barium Reduction Corporation, Evans Lead Corporation, Electro Metallurgical Corporation, and also working on the DuPont Plant when John L. Lewis appointed me Secretary-Treasurer of District 17 in January 1941. Later he formed District 29 and I was appointed President and served in this capacity for 23 and one-half years. After that I was elected by the International Executive Board to fill a vacancy as International Vice President. In December 1969 I was re-elected to the same position. The oil interests took it upon themselves to try and elect a president of the UMWA in order to take over the union and make it into a company union the same as the Rockefellers had in Colorado during 1914 until 1932 at which time Franklin D. Roosevelt introduced the National Recovery Act and freed all of the company union members in the United States.
The Rockefellers picked up as their candidate to run for president of the UMWA, Joseph Yablonski. John D. Rockefeller, IV appeared on March 29, 1970 on a television program "Meet the Press" and openly admitted that he had financially supported Joe Yablonski to run as a presidential candidate in the UMWA election. He had remained behind the scenes all during the race. If this was not a conflict of interests what could anyone call it? Rockefeller is the owner of the Old Ben Coal Corporation that produces fourteen million tons of coal per year; they have large interests in Island Creek Coal Corporation, Consolidation Coal Corporation and Eastern Gas Associates. Also two large strip mines in Indiana.