President Theodore Roosevelt initially invited the coal miners' union representatives and the mine owners to meet to settle the Coal Strike of 1902 because the nation needed coal to provide heat in the coming winter. When the two sides refused to negotiate, he threatened to use soldiers to man the mines during the strike, and the loss of money for both sides brought them back to negotiations. The coal miners knew they would lose wages while the soldiers were operating the mines, and the coal mine owners would also not make any money, and so they agreed to accept the results of an arbitration commission.
At the start of the 20th century, coal was the primary source of fuel for operating factories, running trains and heating homes. Its demand was high, and if the coal strike had continued into the winter, a general panic would have been likely.
Because there was a lot of demand for coal mine workers, they were able to form a union; however, at that point in time, unions were a new phenomenon, and owners were often unwilling to recognize them, let alone bargain with them. However, the long working day, low wages and unsafe working conditions in the coal mines made it a dangerous occupation.
As a result of the arbitration, the miners received a 10 percent raise and a cut in the length of the work day, although the union did not receive official recognition.