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In 1882, coal miners in Ohio formed a union, the Ohio Miners' Amalgamated Association. In 1883, several mine operators and iron concerns in the Hocking Valley region united into the Columbus and Hocking Coal and Iron Company, known to the miner's as "The Syndicate". In the spring of 1884, the Columbus and Hocking Coal and Iron Co. proposed a 10 cent per ton wage reduction for miners, who rejected the proposal. "The Syndicate" then reduced the wage a further 10 cents per ton and required miners to sign an "iron clad" contract. The miners of the Hocking Valley went on strike. The operators imported "blackleg" workers and hired Pickerton guards. Governor George Hoadley sent out the state militia.

The strike went on for nine months. In the end, the strikers accepted the terms offered by the Columbus and Hocking Coal and Iron Company.