FRANKLIN — Southeast Kansas miners not only dug coal to power the nation, they also created change that improved the lives of American workers. “Milestones for U.S. Workers,” a new exhibit at the Miners Hall Museum, Franklin, celebrates the significant accomplishments of the labor movement, especially in regard to coal mining. John Lair, a member of Local 14, United Mine Workers of America, and Jimmie Lovell, Local 14 president, are hosts for the museum exhibit, which will be on free public view during April, May and June. “The miners before us gave us things that we have today,” Lair said. “That includes the first eight-hour day in 1898 and collective bargaining in 1933.” He credits a lot of the accomplishments to John L. Lewis, who served as UMWA national president from 1920 to 1960. “More than 4 million American workers were organized,” Lair said. “A lot of people don’t realize how many unions John L. Lewis created.” Lewis was a main force behind founding the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO), which established the United Steel Workers of America and also helped organize millions of other workers in the 1930s. “His greatest accomplishment was creating the health and retirement fund for coal miners,” Lair said. “Harry Truman signed it in 1946.” He noted that coal miners had many strikes in southeast Kansas, including one that led to the famous Amazon Army march in 1921, when the wives, sweethearts, sisters and daughters of miners worked to support their men’s demands for fair pay and safer working conditions. “Lewis and Howat were fighting each other for power,” Lair said. It was Lewis who won, with the UMWA executive board agreeing with mine operators that Howat’s support of wildcat strikes was a violation of the union’s contract. Howat and other District 14 leaders were removed from office in 1921, and in October of that year Lewis revoked the charter of District 14. Expelled from the union, Howat worked later as a street sweeper for the City of Pittsburg and died on Dec. 10, 1945. Lewis retired in 1960, and in 1964 was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Lyndon B. Johnson. His citation praised him for giving voice to the aspirations of the industrial workers of the country. The exhibit includes numerous photos and some artifacts. “We had a lot of people donating pictures,” Lair said. Ge Ge Sachetta, Scammon, brought over a model of a dragline and installed it as a focal point of the exhibit. “I’ve had it four or five years,” he said. “It’ll do anything a regular machine will do, but it’s miniature. A dragline digs the opposite way compared to a shovel. It sits above ground, while a shovel sits in a pit.” He said that a friend, Dick Hilton of Clarksville, Ark., made the dragline. “I helped quite a bit with it, and if anything goes wrong, I do quite a bit of repairs on it,” Sachetta said. He worked many years for the biggest shovel, Big Brutus, at West Mineral, as did Jim Lovell. When the giant shovel was closed down, Sachetta worked another 13 years at LaCygne. “I drove 210 miles to go the round trip between my home in Scammon and LaCygne,” he said. “It was like driving to New York once a week, but I did it so I could get my pension.” The exhibit is on view from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday. In conjunction with the exhibit, Randy Roberts, Pittsburg State University archivist, will give a presentation titled “Another Day Older and Deeper in Debt” at 2 p.m. May 4, and members of the UMWA will have a panel discussion on “UMWA and Coal Mining” at 2 p.m. June 22.