National Affairs: No Show

No doubt about it, the United Mine Workers' 39th convention was Hamlet without Hamlet. The 2,800 delegates who had journeyed expectantly to Atlantic City blamed it all on fate. Fate had picked convention time to floor indestructible old John L. Lewis with appendicitis—a mischance that left him represented at the convention only by a glowering portrait and harsh words in the mouths of his underlings. From the start, the convention felt lost.

The Lewis words were enough, of course, to carry the business and set the strategy of the four-day meeting. Automatically, the listless delegates racked up some 1,400 resolutions, concerned mostly...

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