Mine Owners' Associations were often formed for the purpose of fighting against union organizing drives, but smelter trusts and railroad syndicates were also a concern. These latter issues were complicated by the fact that some mine owners also controlled smelters and railroad lines.
Prior to the formation of the Western Federation of Miners (WFM), local unions and protective associations formed by miners did not present much of a threat to the mine operators. Organizations such as the Knights of Labor had little power in confronting owners. Miners demanding better working conditions or wage increases were often fired. When local unions sought such changes, they were easily driven out of the mining districts.
In the western United States, mine owners formed a Mine Owners' Association in response to the WFM organizing in the mining district of Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, on May 15, 1893. Two periods of confrontation in Idaho, in 1892 and 1899, between miners and mining companies resulted in the joining of the companies into a loose association to look after their interests. The mining companies of Colorado similarly joined together during a labor struggle in 1894, and during the Colorado Labor Wars of 1903. However, the mining companies of the Cripple Creek District were not completely united, even during the 1903-04 strike. As in Coeur d'Alene, mining companies in the Cripple Creek District that made agreements with unions were shut down by military force.
The Colorado Mining Association (CMA), had been established in 1876, and was incorporated in 1897, and still exists.
In March 1902, Arthur L. Collins, of the Smuggler-Union mine in Telluride; Charles Chase; Arthur Winslow, general manager of the Liberty Bell; A.D. Snodgrass, chief clerk of the Smuggler-Union mine; and several other mine operators were instrumental in forming the Colorado Mine Operators' Association. The motivating reason was a WFM union organizing drive in Telluride, and similar efforts in other parts of Colorado. Twenty-seven members started the group, many of them from Idaho Springs, where the WFM was strong.
Mining operators in the San Juan mountain area of Colorado formed the San Juan District Mining Association (SJDMA) in approximately 1903, as a direct result of a WFM proposal to the Telluride Mining Association for the eight hour day. The new association consolidated the power of thirty-six mining properties in San Miguel, Ouray, and San Juan counties. The SJDMA granted itself the power to prevent any of its members from coming to an agreement with the miners' union that would accept reduced hours or increased wages. This inflexible decision helped to create conditions that resulted in a series of bitter and bloody strikes throughout Colorado's mining communities.
Mining companies routinely hired agencies such as the Pinkerton National Detective Agency, the Baldwin-Felts Detective Agency, or the Thiel Detective Service Company to assign special agents to monitor, infiltrate, and sabotage unions, or union organizing drives. The MOAs sometimes issued work cards to miners who were required to renounce the union as a condition of employment. State MOAs enabled blacklisting of union miners on a statewide basis. MOAs sometimes united to call upon state or federal authorities to send military force in the form of national guard or federal troops into strike areas.
In 1995, mining companies in the United States joined together to form the National Mining Association (NMA), a trade organization that works through the Advocacy Campaign Team for Mining, and lists itself as the voice of the mining industry in Washington, D.C. NMA has more than 325 corporate members.
State Mining Organizations, Associations and Societies, United States Department of Labor — http://www.msha.gov/MINELINK/STATES.HTM