Interview with Joseph A. Scopa, June 16, 1987

Project: Appalachia: Roving Pickets Oral History Project

Interview Summary

Joseph Scopa talks about his activities in both the Roving Pickets and the Miners for Democracy movements. He states that the movement began as a result of "sweetheart deals" between union field representatives and local coal operators in Harlan and Bell counties. Under the terms of the contracts some operators were exempted from paying certain duties and royalties to the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA). He describes how the Roving Pickets would meet at a predetermined location, usually the miners' hospital or the union hall, and then decide what mines in Harlan and Bell counties they would attempt to shut down.

Scopa believes that the UMWA "sold [the Roving Pickets] out." He recalls that District 19 officials, among them President Albert Pass, told the pickets that they would support them in their attempt to close mines in Harlan and Bell Counties. When the pickets began closing mines around the area, however, District 19 officials began broadcasting messages on several local radio stations proclaiming that the pickets were not associated with the UMWA. Scopa remembers that the Roving Pickets felt betrayed by the union many of them had worked hard to establish.

Scopa describes his later involvement with the Miners for Democracy movement in the early 1970s. He maintains that this revolt by the rank-and-file within the union resulted because miners wanted the right to elect leaders of local unions. Previously field representatives and other district officials were appointed by national leaders. Scopa believes that electing leaders would make them more accountable to the rank-and-file.

Interview Accession

1987oh169_app092

Interviewee Name

Joseph A. Scopa

Interviewer Name

Doug Cantrell

Interview Date

1987-06-16

Interview Rights

All rights to the interviews, including but not restricted to legal title, copyrights and literary property rights, have been transferred to the University of Kentucky Libraries.

Interview Usage

Interviews may be reproduced with permission from Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, Special Collections, University of Kentucky Libraries.

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Interviews may be reproduced with permission from Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, Special Collections, University of Kentucky Libraries.

All rights to the interviews, including but not restricted to legal title, copyrights and literary property rights, have been transferred to the University of Kentucky Libraries.

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Scopa, Joseph A. Interview by Doug Cantrell. 16 Jun. 1987. Lexington, KY: Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries.

Scopa, J.A. (1987, June 16). Interview by D. Cantrell. Appalachia: Roving Pickets Oral History Project. Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries, Lexington.

Scopa, Joseph A., interview by Doug Cantrell. June 16, 1987, Appalachia: Roving Pickets Oral History Project, Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries.





Persistent Link for this Record: https://kentuckyoralhistory.org/ark:/16417/xt7jws8hhk2j