Date of Award
Master of Science (MS)
The right to strike is a privilege held dear and guarded closely by all organized labor. This is the most effective weapon with which organized labor can deal with capital and management. Alexander Howat, as President of District 14 of the United Mine Workers of America, vigorously opposed all attempts to restrict this cherished right to strike.
A short biographical sketch of this leader of the Kansas miners is used as a background for the study of the situation that developed after the enactment of the Kansas Industrial Court Law.
Immediately following the end of World War I the industrial situation became such as to seem to warrant the enactment of industrial legislation. Kansas, acting as a pioneer in this type of legislation, introduced the Kansas Industrial Court Law which substituted compulsory adjudication for the right to strike.
The United Mine Workers of District 14, under the leadership of Alex Howat, made a desperate all out attempt to discredit the Kansas Industrial Court. They attempted to prove the failure of the court by calling strikes in defiance of the law. The body of this paper consists of the court proceedings and results of the several trials caused by this disobedience of the miners. In every trial the validity of the Industrial Court Law was upheld and the union officials were obliged to pay fines and serve time in jail as a penalty. Public sentiment and United States Supreme Court rulings later made the law ineffective and it became largely a dead letter.
Among the many sources used in the construction of this paper, the following are considered by the author to be the most important:
The court documents of the Crawford County District Court at Girard, Kansas, were very helpful in furnishing definite and accurate information concerning the several trials in which the mine officials were involved. The Public Library of Pittsburg, Kansas, has a complete file of the Pittsburg Headlight. This publication contains a complete account of the controversy over the Kansas Industrial Court as it affected the miners of District 14. This source of information served well in presenting the events that led up to the court trials and in giving the views of the miners. Personal interviews by the author with the wife of Alex Howat and his friend and comrade, August Dorchy, proved of much value in verifying the data that were available on this subject.
Monninger, Thomas L., "The Fight of Alexander Howat for the right to strike" (1946). Electronic Thesis Collection. 112.