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“We didn’t like unions coming in and trying to tell us that they were going to look after the men. We felt that we’d do a better job…”

from a 1970s oral history interview with William Parsons Todd,
Vice President of Quincy Mining Company during the strike

“Paternalism” was a system which placed the mining company in a “parent-child” type of relationship with mineworkers, their families, and the community at large. Mining companies provided amenities such as libraries, bathhouses, and houses at reasonable rental rates to attract and retain skilled workers. These benefits were intended to reward good work, instill loyalty to the company, and quell complaints about working conditions and compensation. Paternalism in the Copper Country created a definite pecking order in both the workplace and the community. Skilled workers with mining experience from Cornwall, Germany, and other mining areas in the United States received better jobs and homes on company property close to work, while unskilled workers from places such as Finland, Italy, and Eastern Europe often had to live in more expensive and often congested housing off company property. While company-provided amenities might seem like a benefit to workers, they could all be taken away if a worker strayed from the company’s good graces.
labor hierarchy

There was a strict labor hierarchy or order in Copper Country mines. At the head of this hierarchy were mining captains in white coats who were underground supervisors.

Housing located on company property rented at the rate of one dollar per room, per month, was one way to attract and retain preferred types of employees. Mining companies found married men more stable, as their wages were needed to support a larger family unit. Some companies encouraged families to take in single men as boarders. Housing located on company property
Sarah Sargent Paine Library in Painesdale Large mining companies built libraries for employee use such as the Sarah Sargent Paine Library in Painesdale.

An interior drawing of Quincy Mining Company worker housing shows the rather humble living quarters of mineworkers, while mine captains and managers often lived in much larger homes.

interior drawing of Quincy Mining Company worker housing
Swimmers at the Calumet & Hecla Bathhouse

Swimmers at the Calumet & Hecla Bathhouse, which was built for the use of mineworkers and their families. Local mining companies provided such amenities to attract and retain a skilled workforce.