Business & Finance: Union Blues

In the Tennessee hills 45 miles northwest of Knoxville lies Royal Blue, a model coal-mining town. Its 300 miners' cottages, owned by the Blue Diamond Coal Co., are neat and attractive, and set in their own plots. Royal Blue has one of the county's biggest schools, a well-stocked company store, and a reputation as one of the healthiest and cleanest mining towns in the U.S. But last week the mine was closed down for good. For the town it was a death sentence, since Blue Diamond's Royal Blue is the only employer.

The closing came as a shock to Royal Blue's miners,...

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