Michael Ratchford Photo

Michael Ratchford

Death: Dec 12, 1927

Birthplace: County Clare

Nationality: United States

Michael Ratchford

Date of Death : Dec 12, 1927
Birth Place : County Clare

Michael Ratchford was an American labor leader and president of the United Mine Workers of America from 1897 to 1898. Ratchford was born in County Clare, Ireland. He attended public school and emigrated to the United States in 1872 with his parents. The family settled in Massillon, Ohio. He married the former Deborah Jordan in 1884. He started working in coal mines when he was just 12 years old. He became active in the United Mine Workers after its formation in 1890 and was elected local union president that year. He was hired as an organizer by the international union in 1893 and was elected District 6 president in 1895. After UMWA president Phil Penna declined to run for a full term in 1895, Ratchford was elected as his successor. During his single term as UMWA president, Ratchford dramatically re-invigorated the union. He led a hugely successful national coal miners' strike in July 1897 which involved more than 100,000 workers. Supported by the American Federation of Labor, the strike lasted 12 weeks and shut down almost all coal production in the U.S. The strike was settled when mine owners agreed to sign a national master contract, the Central Competitive Field Agreement.

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