Video of the 1989 Pittston Miners’ Strike

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Below is a youtube video of the 1989 Pittston coal miners’ strike.

The United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) succeeded in making their 12-month walkout against Pittston into a national labor cause, even though it involved only several thousand strikers in geographically isolated coal field communities. The union mobilized other UMWA members for sympathy strikes at non-Pittston mines, linked arms with recent presidential candidate Jesse Jackson, orchestrated waves of mass arrests, staged the first plant occupation since the 1930s, and created an encampment in southwest Virginia (Camp Solidarity) that became a magnet for strike supporters, of all types, from throughout the country.

The union won a new contract. It was not perfect. “But the terms of the agreement were vastly more favorable to the union than anyone dreamed would be possible when Pittston first set out to break the union, to drop all health care obligations to retirees, and to bust up the BCOA [Bituminous Coal Operators Association],” wrote Jim Sessions, a strike leader (Stephen L. Fisher, ed., Fighting Back in Appalachia: Traditions of Resistance and Change [1993], 222). Pittston executives admitted they were caught off guard by the ability of the union to organize massive resistance.

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