Features appear in each issue of Pennsylvania Heritage showcasing a variety of subjects from various periods and geographic locations in Pennsylvania.

For too long, Joseph A. Yablonski (1910-1969) – known to most simply as Jock – had seen things go wrong in the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA), once a respected labor union. He had served in its hierarchy but with an increasingly troubled conscience. What mattered to him most was that things had to change and he had to lead the charge to change them. He ardently believed that rank-and-file coal miners from Pennsylva­nia to Montana had to have a voice in the way their union was run. “The current [union] administration doesn’t care about the coal miners. It has lost touch with the coal miners. It is totally corrupt and is only interested in perpetuating its own power and nepotism,” Yablonski, who liked being called a “reformer,” told an inquisitive press in the spring of 1969. Supporters, including consumer activist Ralph Nader and West Virginia Congress­man Kenneth Hechler, assured Jock that his was a worthy cause. Reform-minded mineworkers rallied to his side.

What troubled Jock Yablonski, too, was that problems – and violence – could result from his decision to take on the leader of the roughest labor union of them all. He had shared his concern with Margaret, his wife of thirty years. To his sons Kenneth and Joseph (“Chip”), he confided that the president of the UMWA, William Anthony “Tony” Boyle, could be ruthless. In a foreshadowing of things to come, he had even told his family that, if violence were to occur, it would likely originate from Boyle and be carried out by UMWA District 19, which encompassed Kentucky and Tennessee, and its notorious secretary-treasurer Albert Pass, nicknamed “Little Hitler.” Yablonski believed his life was in danger from the very moment he announced his challenge to Boyle for the presidency of the one hundred and fifty thousand­-member union before the press and supporters at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, D.C., on May 29, 1969. It wasn’t that he was totally fearless or entirely foolish. It was, simply, that working to change an organization in which he had spent his career was the right thing to do.

He was born on March 3, 1910, in Pittsburgh, the oldest of three sons of Polish immigrant coal miner Stephen Yablonski and his wife Louise. The family relocated to California, in the southwestern corner of Pennsylvania, where, at age fifteen, he took a job at the Vesta No. 6 mine of the Jones and Laughlin Steel Company. In May 1933, Stephen Yablonski died from complica­tions following a mining accident, and his son took his place at Vesta and began organizing for the UMWA. Jock Yablons­ki’s powerful voice, charismatic presence, and ability to persuade led to his election as president of UMWA Local 1787 in the union’s District 5, which served the Pittsburgh area. In 1939, western Pennsylvania’s famous “labor priest,” the Reverend Charles Owen Rice, married Jock Yablonski and Margaret Wasicek. A year later Yablonski was elected to the prestigious position of District 5’s representative to the UMWA’s policy-making International Executive Board (IEB).

By the time of Yablonski’s ascendancy; control of the mineworkers’ union was firmly in the hands of John L. Lewis (1880-1969), whose renown as union president was surpassed only by his stature as a labor statesman. To make it clear that “John L.” spoke with absolute authority for mineworkers, the IBB granted him the power to revoke the charters of UMWA districts and to appoint individuals to oversee union affairs at the district level. Likewise, he could dismiss union members who fomented dissent or opposition to the president’s policies. When contracts with coal operators were to be negotiated, Lewis alone worked out the details, agreeing on a settlement only when he considered the terms fair. Although his absolutist policies would later haw1t the UMWA, Lewis ruled virtually unchal­lenged until his retirement – after forty years as union president – in 1960.

Yablonski grew comfortable in his union role. He enjoyed the work and respected Lewis, who relied on him as one of the UMWA’s key orators through­out the country’s coalfields. His family life was comfortable too. He was a good father and a loyal husband. Be had quit high school in the tenth grade, but was proud of the fact that he was a self­-directed learner. He read books and newspapers and took interest in his wife’s work as a playwright. To accom­modate his family – which by the mid-1940s had grown to include three children – he purchased a large three­-story, century-old farmhouse just outside of the borough of Clarksville, Greene County, fifty miles south of Pittsburgh. The Yablonskis dismissed stories of the house being “cursed,” but violent death was no stranger here. A nineteenth­-century owner had hanged himself from basement rafters. In the 1930s, a Pennsyl­vania State Police trooper was shot to death inside the house while investigat­ing a domestic dispute.

Yablonski’s career blossomed when, in 1958, Lewis combined the positions of District 5 president and IEB representa­tive and scheduled an election to fill the post. Yablonski received overwhelming support at the ballot box. Lewis even confided in him that he thought he was perfectly capable of leading the union someday. But Lewis had also placed similar confidence in Tony Boyle.

Boyle, a Bald Butte, Montana, native of Scotch-Irish heritage had worked in the mines since he was fifteen years old. In 1940, at the age of thirty-nine, he was elected president of UMWA District 27 headquartered in Billings. The feisty, restless, quick-tempered Boyle was summoned to union headquarters in Washington, D.C., in 1948 to work as a special assistant to Lewis. When he retired, Lewis secured Boyle’s appoint­ment as vice president, second in command to Hazleton, Luzerne County, native and former Pennsylvania Lieu­tenant Governor Thomas Kennedy, who had succeeded Lewis. Kennedy’s tenure, marred by poor health, was brief. When Kennedy died on January 19, 1963, Boyle assumed the reins. The relationship between Tony Boyle and Jock Yablonski, always tenuous, began to deteriorate.

One issue of contention was the union’s 1963 contract with the Bitumi­nous Coal Operators Association (BCOA). Negotiated in secret by Boyle­ – in the style of his predecessor – it garnered a two-dollar-a-day wage boost and a hike of twenty-five dollars in vacation pay. Although Boyle secured seven holidays for union members, all were unpaid. He also acquiesced on a key demand for sick pay. Pennsylvania’s soft coal miners were infuriated, calling the gains meager and ridiculing their leader as “Two Dollar Tony.” When Pittsburgh area’s District 5 invited Boyle to explain the contract in person he refused. Ensuing wildcat strikes shut down scores of mines. Boyle ordered Yablonski to get the men back to work. As much as he sympathized with rank­-and-filers, Yablonski complied.

The unrest mounted when Bobtown, Greene County, native and UMWA dissident Steve “Cadillac” Kochis decided to challenge Boyle for the presidency in 1964. Yablonski supported Boyle but not to the degree that the boss wanted. His conscience guided his decision to not engage in ballot rigging in District 5 as Boyle had suggested. The incumbent won by seventy-seven thousand votes, his return to office dogged by suspicions of election fraud.

The following year the General Assembly of Pennsylvania debated amending the Commonwealth’s 1939 Occupational Disease Act (P.L. 566) to establish a coal operator-financed fund to compensate anthracite mineworkers afflicted with the dreaded black lung, a crippling respiratory disease known as pneumonoconiosis or anthrasilicosis caused by inhaling coal dust particles. Yablonski lobbied legislators to broaden the amendment to include bituminous miners. Boyle wanted only the anthracite provision, concerned that a broader measure would financially burden coal operators in a highly competitive energy market. When Governor William W. Scranton signed the amendment into law mandating monthly payments to both anthracite and bituminous miners, Boyle grew livid (see “The Gentleman from Pennsylvania: An Interview with William W. Scranton” by Michael J. O’Malley III in the winter 2001 issue). He believed he had been double-crossed by the insubordinate Yablonski.

The union’s convention in Bal Harbor, Florida, that year was wracked with controversy. Boyle’s supporters from District 19, with Albert Pass at the lead, wore white helmets proclaiming “Loyal to Boyle” and rimmed the convention hall as a security force to guard against potential opposition to the union boss. At one point they beat a delegate who protested the presence of a U.S. Steel Company official. Rumors swirled that Boyle had squandered tens of thousands of dollars in union funds on convention perks such as bands, food, and liquor. Yablonski threatened to pull District 5 out of the convention unless Boyle changed his tactics. He called off the District 19 “goon squad.”

The relationship grew increasingly tense when, in June 1966, Boyle demand­ed that Yablonski resign as president of District 5 or give up his seat on the IEB. Alleging improprieties with District 5’s financial affairs, Boyle threatened to place Yablonski’s district in trusteeship and declare it insolvent unless he complied. Yablonski conceded the district presidency. Boyle immediately placed a loyalist into the job and assigned his foe the task of organizing mineworkers in the Johnstown area. Auditors later found no mismanagement of District 5’s finances.

It appeared to some skeptical UMWA members – Jock Yablonski among them – that Tony Boyle was unusually cozy with coal operators. When a November 1968 methane gas explosion at a Consolidation Coal Company mine near Farmington, West Virginia, prompt­ed the company to seal the mine – and the fate of seventy-eight men still inside – Boyle described the company to the media as one of the country’s better operators in terms of its safety record. He apparently was oblivious to the fact that the U.S. Department of the Interior had documented numerous safety violations at the mine just prior to the calamity.

Boyle’s reaction to a proposed federal Coal Mine Health and Safety Act startled working miners. Originally introduced in 1968 by Congressmen Hechler of West Virginia and Daniel Flood and John Dent of Pennsylvania, the bill reduced the amount of coal dust permitted in mines, regulated various aspects of mine safety, and guaranteed federal compensation to mineworkers diagnosed with black lung. Seeing the proposal as a personal criticism of his stance on mine safety issues, Boyle charged before Congress that the bill had only the backing of “self-proclaimed do-gooders” like Ralph Nader and that “outside agitators” and overnight experts” were misleading mineworkers and politicians. It became obvious to observers that Boyle’s UMWA was reluctant to take on the coal opera­tors and was wary of federal scrutiny of the industry.

Like Yablonski, Ralph Nader had been a thorn in Boyle’s side. He openly criticized the UMWA for not complying with the 1959 federal Landrum-Griffin Act requiring unions to permit districts to elect their own officers. Nader’s investigation of the UMWA-owned National Bank of Washington, where Boyle sat on the board of directors, revealed questionable practices such as the retention of large cash reserves in non-interest bearing accounts that benefited the bank’s coffers enormously. These and other dubious practices prompted John L. Lewis to remark, prior to his death in June 1969, six months prior to the union’s bitter election contest, that paving the way for Boyle’s appointment to the union’s top post was among the worst decisions he had ever made.

By the spring of 1969, everything added up for Jock Yablonski. His conscience told him that it was time to mount a charge against Tony Boyle. When he took the podium at the Mayflower Hotel, in Washington, D.C., on May 29 to announce his candidacy, he suspected danger. Yet, few could have imagined – including Yablonski him­self – that when the election was over he and his family would be the victims of one of the most sensational homicides in twentieth-century Pennsylvania and in the annals of American labor history.

Stunned by Yablonski’s candidacy, Boyle moved swiftly. First, in a political­ly strategic move, he raised the monthly allotment for each of the UMWA’s forty thousand voting pensioners by thirty-five dollars, from one hundred and fifteen dollars to one hundred and fifty dollars. At the IEB’s gathering in Washington less than a month later, he ousted Yablonski from his most recent position as acting director of Labor’s Non-Partisan League, the lobbying arm of the UMWA. Finally, in a decision that would secure his place in history as the nation’s highest-ranking labor official ever convicted of first­-degree murder, Boyle called aside Albert Pass and the president of District 19, William Turnblazer, at the conclusion of the IEB’s June conclave. To them he uttered, “We’re in a fight. Yablonski ought to be killed, or done away with.” Pass replied that, always loyal to their president District 19 would carry out the job.

Upon his return to Middlesboro, Kentucky, Pass turned to District 19 field representative William Prater to find someone to carry out the plot. One of Prater’s partners in union-sponsored violence, Local 3228 President Silous Huddleston, suggested that his son-in­-law Paul Gilly, of Cleveland, Ohio, might be interested in the “job” if the money was right. Pass received nearly twenty thousand dollars in union funds from Boyle, disguised it as organizing money, laundered it through several UMWA retirees, and promised Huddleston and Gilly full payment when the “order” was carried out. Throughout the late summer and fall of 1969, Gilly, a house painter, and Cleveland associates Claude Vealey and James Phillips, both of whom held criminal records, stalked Yablonski as he crusaded throughout the coalfields in an extraordinarily high-profile campaign. What they did know was that an important person by the name of Tony financed the plot and that he did not like being disappointed. What they didn’t know was who Yablonski was and why someone wanted him out of the way.

In a series of amateurish, almost comical misadventures, the trio proceed­ed to bungle assassination opportunities at every turn. On one occasion the stalkers waited outside UMWA head­quarters in Washington, D.C., and planned to shoot Yablonski as he entered or departed the building. Unable to locate him, however, they ventured to his son Chip’s home in suburban Maryland where Jock often stayed when in the nation’s capitol. Conspiring to either shoot the elder Yablonski if he answered the door when they rang or to firebomb the house while the family slept, their plans were thwarted when they learned that he wasn’t there either. Then, acting on a tip that Jock was in Scranton, Gilly drove his conspirators to the Lackawan­na County seat. Unable to locate Yablonski – though he had, indeed, been campaigning there – they drove back to Ohio, plotting along the way to lace his cigars with arsenic, kidnap his daughter and shoot him when he came to a designated place to pay ransom, or dynamite his Clarksville home.

As the campaign intensified, the trio stalked Yablonski at his Clarksville home, eventually figuring out that he was fairly important and newsworthy person. Presented with a chance to shoot Yablonski through a living room window, a nervous Vealey couldn’t pull the trigger. On another occasion they entered the Yablonski home when no one was present to become familiar with its layout for a later return. As the December 9 election neared, word was sent to Gilly to temporarily call off the plot. Someone higher-up thought that it would look too obvious.

When the election results were tallied, Boyle was returned to office with eighty thousand votes. Yablonski, securing forty-six thousand votes, immediately charged fraud and filed a complaint with the U.S. Labor Department and suit in federal court demanding a new and fair election. Gilly was advised to finish the job by New Year’s Day.

As the holiday season approached, Yablonski became more aware of the danger that trailed him. When Gilly and Vealey showed up at the front door of the Yablonski home, passing themselves off as unemployed coal miners looking for work, he sensed something amiss. Although they nervously backed out of another chance to murder him, Yablonski noted the Ohio license plate on their automobile. He scribbled it on a notepad and telephoned the Pennsylvania State Police who traced the vehicle to Paul Gilly’s wife, Annette. Later that day Jock told his sons about the two men. He was fairly certain that they intended to kill him. Despite his disdain for weapons, Jock, encouraged by his brother Eddie, kept a shotgun near his bed for protec­tion.

When James Phillips dropped out of the scheme, Gilly recruited petty criminal Aubrey “Buddy” Martin for the trio’s final return to the Yablonski home on December 30, 1969 – the very same day, ironically, that President Richard M. Nixon unceremoniously signed the Coal Mine Health and Safety Act into law. Watching the house from their car parked on a knoll a short distance away, they waited for the Yablonskis’ holiday company to depart and for the family to retire for the night. Then, about mid­night, they approached the house, disabled the Yablonskis’ vehicles parked in the driveway, severed the telephone line, entered the home by removing a rear screen door, and proceeded to the second floor bedrooms. Vowing to leave no witnesses, they unloaded their weapons on Jock, fifty-nine, Margaret, fifty-seven, and Charlotte Yablonski, twenty-five, as they slept. Yablonski was shot five times, his wife and daughter each twice. Afterward, the murderers sped off to Cleveland, stopping along the way to discard their weapons. Arriving in Cleveland at about sunrise, they split up the contract money, and tried to forget about what they had done. But Gilly, for one, couldn’t. “After it was over with, I knew it was the worst mistake I’d ever made in my life,” he later confessed to prosecutors.

Several days later, Kenneth Yablonski discovered the bodies of his slain parents and sister when his attempts to reach them by telephone failed. It was Monday, January 5, 1970, and Jock Yablonski’s absence at inaugurations for local officials in Washington County was conspicu­ous – and, to his son, disturbing. With a friend, William C. Stewart, the young Yablonski drove to Clarksville to check on his father. What they found was heinous.

In his courtroom account, Ken Yablonski retraced his steps through the grisly crime scene.

When I got to the top of the steps and looked toward the bedrooms on the right, I saw what appeared to be a very large body laying on the bed completely covered by, like, a quilt, a bedspread or something like that. I ran into the room. It looked too large to be my mother. I thought it was my father, or I didn’t know really, and the face was covered as though they pulled the cover over their face.

I took the cover and pulled it back. I couldn’t see the face because it was all black or dark. But I could see the long hair and that’s when I realized it was my mother. I looked for my father. I didn’t see him on the bed. There were some times he snored or that sort of thing; they would sleep in separate bedroom, so I thought maybe he was in another bedroom.

I ran out of that bedroom and ran into what used to be my brother’s and my bedroom. I ran in there looking for my father and I saw my sister.

She was lying face down on the bed right next to the door and there was just blood all over the bed. It was just all around and her body was sort of dark in color, and as I could see her legs, I remember blood all over the bed.

As I was looking – I was still looking for my father – I remember saying, “Where’s my Dad? Where is he? What did they do to him?” I don’t know whether I went into the other bedroom or not.

Then I ran back, this time all the way in my parents’ bedroom and down around the bed. And this time I saw my father. He was off on the other side of the bed. My mother was on the near side closest to the door.

He was off the bed in almost like a kneeling, collapsed sort of position, propped up against, I think, the end table. I’m not sure. I remember seeing a lot of blood, looked like blood. [remember seeing a spot. He had an undershirt on, and I just looked. I don’t know that I did anything else, and then I ran out of the room and I ran downstairs.

From the outset Ken, his brother Chip, and those close to their father knew the murders were the work of the United Mine Workers of America and its president, Tony Boyle. As word of the killings spread, twenty thousand miners from Pennsylvania to Illinois staged a work stoppage. U.S. Secretary of Labor George Shultz lamented the murders as “a shocking event and a tragedy.” Activist Ralph Nader was blunt, remark­ing that “forces of tyranny and brutality rule in the coalfields.” Caught off guard that Margaret and Charlotte Yablonskl had become victims of his plot, Tony Boyle told the press that he was stunned by the news. “Why would anyone want to kill Yablonski and his wife and daughter? I have no idea. None whatso­ever,” Boyle said.

Monsignor Charles Owens Rice officiated at the funeral in the Borough of Washington where UMWA dissident Mike Trbovich of Clarksville – to whom Jock had hauntingly confided, “If anything happens to me, keep this movement together” – and the Yablonski brothers gathered with rank-and-file miners to discuss continuing the reform cause. As the Yablonskis were interred high on a hill overlooking the community, Miners for Democracy (MFD) was born.

Governor Raymond P. Shafer expand­ed the initial investigation launched by the Pennsylvania State Police by request­ing U.S. Attorney Genera] John Mitchell to assign the Department of Justice to the case and “track down every possible lead.” Within three weeks Paul Gilly, Buddy Martin, and Claude Vealey were in custody. Philadelphia’s First Assistant District Attorney, Richard Sprague, took on the assignment of Special Prosecutor for the Commonwealth and, over the next two years, secured first-degree murder convictions for Gilly and Martin in Washington County trials, and a guilty plea by Vealey. Each was sentenced to death by electrocution. (Their sentences were commuted to life imprisonment when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled the death penalty unconstitutional.)

Richard Sprague’s key struggle was to prove that the murder plot was hatched at the highest ranks of the United Mine Workers of America. A break for the prosecution came in early 1972 when Annette Huddleston Gilly, who was awaiting trial, panicked at the thought of the electric chair and admitted that she encouraged her husband and his accomplices to murder Yablonski as a favor to her father. She claimed, too, that the plot was masterminded by none other than Tony Boyle. Silous Huddle­ston, awaiting trial with his daughter, changed his plea from innocent to guilty and implicated District 19 officials Albert Pass, William Turnblazer, and William Prater. For their cooperation Huddleston and his daughter received reduced sentences and assumed new identities as protected witnesses. In March 1973, Prater was convicted on three counts of first-degree murder. A conviction for Albert Pass followed in June. Both received life sentences. Turnblazer pied guilty in September and confirmed Annette Gilly’s assertion that it was Tony Boyle who gave the order that led to what Pennsylvania State Police investigators described as an “act of vengeance.” (A movie based on – and sharing the same title of – Trevor Armbrister’s 1975 book, Act of Vengeance, was released for cable television in 1986. The film starred Charles Bronson as Jock Yablonski, Ellen Burstyn as Margaret Yablonski, Wilford Brimley as Tony Boyle, Ellen Barkin as Annette Gilly, and Keanu Reeves as Buddy Martin.)

Even though Boyle consistently denied any involvement in the slayings, it wasn’t long before his empire began to crumble. In the spring of 1972, he was convicted on thirteen counts of embez­zling union funds and of violating the Federal Corrupt Practices Act by transferring union money directly to selected candidates for political office. He was sentenced to two concurrent five-year terms and fined one hundred and thirty thousand dollars. While his conviction was being appealed, a federal court declared the UMWA’s longstand­ing policy of prohibiting its rank-and-file from electing district officers to be illegal. Then, in a lethal blow, in May 1972, a federal court overturned Boyle’s Decem­ber 1969 election victory over Jock Yablonski based upon evidence that he had illegally channeled funds from the union’s treasury to advance his candida­cy. A new election was ordered. In December 1972, Boyle was defeated by the heirs to Yablonski’s reform campaign. MFD candidate Arnold Miller of West Virginia and his running mate Mike Trbovich were swept into office in a landslide.

In the fall of 1973, the dethroned seventy-two-year-old UMWA chief was arrested in Washington, D.C., and charged with the murders of Jock, Margaret, and Charlotte Yablonski. Although physically ailing and suicidal – he attempted to kill himself by swallowing a large dose of sleeping pills – Boyle stood trial in Media, Delaware County, in April 1974. Special Prosecutor Sprague argued that Boyle was at the top of a chain-of-command conspir­acy to murder Jock Yablonski. Boyle steadfastly proclaimed his innocence. The jury found Boyle guilty of three counts of first-degree murder. He was sentenced to three consecutive life terms.

Following his transfer from a federal center for medical prisoners in Missouri, William Anthony Boyle became Inmate No. M-1759 at the State Correctional Institution at Pittsburgh where, upon entering, he commented, “What a come down.” He was later transferred to the State Correctional Institution at Dallas, in northeastern Pennsylvania, where he spent the remainder of his life. Tony Boyle died of heart disease on May 31, 1985, at age eighty-three at Wilkes-Barre’s General Hospital.

What Jock Yablonski set out to accomplish in 1969, others would carry on. In working to remedy a corrupt past – a taint from which much of organized labor suffers – Miller and Trbovich instituted wide-ranging reforms. The remedies varied from selling off three Cadillac limousines used to chauffeur the Boyle regime to enacting sweeping changes to the union’s constitution to enhance rank-and-file participation in decision-making and contract settle­ments. They increased the union’s policing of coal mine safety, secured contracts with improved wages, benefits, and working conditions, implemented new organizing campaigns, enhanced the union’s political activism, and grew its membership. By the mid-1970s the UMWA could lay claim to the fact that it was among the nation’s fastest growing labor organizations boasting more than two hundred and seventy-five thousand active and retired members – an increase of nearly one-third in three years­ – which included sixty-four thousand Pennsylvanians.

In the 1980s, mechanization, a changing energy market, and society’s shifting attitudes regarding organized labor, among other factors, ushered in a difficult era. Yet, the UMWA would continue to look and act much different­ly than it had in the past when Richard Trumka, of Nemacolin, Pennsylvania, and Cecil Roberts of Cabin Creek, West Virginia, assumed the posts of president and vice-president in 1982. Even though its membership would fall to about one hundred and thirty thousand (including twenty thousand in Pennsylvania) by century’s end, the UMWA proceeded down unorthodox paths by welcoming school district and municipal employees into its ranks, in addition to coal and energy workers. The union included itself among labor organizations with a growing consciousness of the cause of working people in the international arena. And, it engaged in one of the most highly publicized and millitant labor disputes in recent American history in its strike against the Pittston Coal Group, headquartered at the time in Greenwich, Connecticut.

Founded in Columbus, Ohio, in 1890, the United Mine Workers of America traces many of its roots to the bitumi­nous and anthracite coal regions of Pennsylvania. Reform of the UMWA took on national and international dimensions, but the roots of democratic change can be traced to dissatisfaction with the status quo among Pennsylva­nia’s mineworkers, Jock Yablonski at their lead. A state historical marker, erected in November 1995 by the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission in the southwestern Pennsylvania community of California, commemorates the life and legacy of this courageous Pennsylvanian who lived – ­and died – for reform. The marker cites Yablonski for leading “efforts to improve working conditions for coal miners,” but its last line records for posterity the birth of a new era: “In 1972, reformers were elected to leadership of the UMW.”

It is a tribute to the life – and not the death – of Joseph A. “Jock” Yablonski.


For Further Reading

Armbrister, Trevor. Act of Vengeance: The Yablonski Murders and Their Solution. New York: E. P Dutton & Co., Inc. 1975.

Brown, Stuart. A Man Named Tony: The True Story of the Yablonski Murders. New York: Norton, 1976.

Clark, Paul. The Miners’ Fight for Democ­racy: Arnold Miller and the Reform of the United Mine Workers of America. Ithaca, N. Y: Cornell University Press, 1981.

Dubofsky, Melvin, and Warren Van Tine. John L. Lewis. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1986.

Fox, Meyer. United We Stand: The United Mine Workers of America, 1890-1990. Washington, D.C.: United Mine Workers of America, 1990.

Laslett, John, ed. The United Mine Workers of America: A Model of Indus­trial Solidarity? University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1996.

Lewis, Arthur H. Murder By Contract: The People v. “Tough Tony” Boyle. New York: Macmillan Publishing Company, 1975.

Long, Priscilla. Where the Sun Never Shines: A History of America’s Bloody Coal Industry. New York: Paragon House, 1989.

McCollester; Charles J., ed. Fighter with a Heart: Writings of Charles Owen Rice, Pittsburgh Labor Priest. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1996.


The author wishes to thank the Yablonski family and, especially, Kenneth Yablonski of Washington, Pennsylvania, for their assistance and for lending photographs to illustrate this article. The author also acknowledges the Communications Office of the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) for providing illustrations.


Kenneth C. Wolensky is a historian with the Division of History of the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission.