Justice in the Coalfields demonstrates how current labor law has crippled the collective bargaining power of unions and weighed the scales of justice against working people. The documentary follows the 1988 United Mine Workers strike against the Pittston Coal Company that followed the expiration of their contract and Pittston's termination of the medical benefits of 1,500 pensioners, widows, and disabled miners. Justice in the Coalfields documents the community-wide outrage that Pittston's violation of a long-standing social contract ignited. The film captures events in southwestern Virgina — the heart of the strike and a right-to-work state — showing hundreds of state troopers escorting “replacement workers” through the picket lines. The film captures union members, their families and friends responding with mass civil disobedience that resulted in over 4,000 arrests, as well as state and federal judges reacting with injunctions and fining the UMWA more than $64 million. These events are given context through conversations with the rank-and-file, a federal judge, a public interest lawyer, the coal company president, and the public affairs director of the National Right to Work Committee for a clear-eyed look at the strike's social, cultural, and economic impact on coalfield communities.
Screenings & Festivals
International Labor Film Festival
Peace and Justice Activists, National Organizers Alliance
Southern Sociological Society Conference
West Virginia Film Festival