Harlan County, USA — The People

Harlan County, USA¬†is a movie centered during the 1970s discussing the “Brookside Strike.” The movie takes place during the 1970s in Brookside Mine and Plant in Harlan County, Kentucky. It surrounds the lives of a few hundred mine workers and their wives fighting the Eastover Coal Company and the unfair working conditions that it provides. These families along with their corrupt union fight for better working conditions, salary increases and much more. The battle proves to be extremely challenging as the Duke Power Company refuses to budge and violence is seen as a result.

The strike began in June 1972 with the UMWA depicting the terrible working conditions that they were a part of. The interviews showed workers with black lung disease and no money to get through modern life, highlighting the inability of older generations to ever retire. The UMWA is corrupt, in which Yablonski fights for presidency of the UMWA and is later killed in the movie along with his family. The Duke Power Company clearly accomplishes this along with murdering (not directly) Tony Boyle, the past president as he is seen being extremely sick during the movie. These men were seen as threats to the organization. The movie also shows violence and fights between the workers and the organization. At one point there is even a strike that occurred in front of the New York Stock Exchange which exhibited the true horrors of the company as compared to the NYPD. They fight for long and finally get some of their demands, with hope of global bettering.

David Shmidt