COAL MINING companies have a long history of crimes against employees, and the state and federal government, that dates to the 19th century. Crimes against employees included illegal cheating in coal weights, excessive hours, the company towns' gouging and scrip, unsafe working conditions, and government-assisted violence. Crimes against the United States came later and included violations of labor laws, safety laws, and environmental laws.

The coal regions in the 19th century tended to be remote, tied to the market by the railroads that were the prime consumers of coal. As the United States industrialized between 1880 and 1930, the mining companies entered regions occupied by selfsufficient farmers and enticed the farmers to the mines and the company towns.

Companies built towns, including churches, services, and shops for ...

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