Today in history: February 20, 1990 – The bitterly fought, militant 10-month Pittston coal strike ends in a victory against concessions for the workers.
The strike was led by the United Mine Workers Union (UMWA) against the Pittston Coal Company. It started April 5, 1989 and was provoked by Pittston’s termination of health care for 1,500 retirees, widows, and disabled miners, and their refusal to contribute to the benefit trust for miners who retired before 1974. They also started running the mines 24-7 with no overtime for the workers. The strike affected production in mines in Virginia, WV and KY.
Mine workers and their families engaged in work stoppage, occupations, civil disobedience, protests and direct confrontation, flaunting numerous legal injunctions and costly fines. At its peak in June 1989, the strike involved approximately 2,000 miners daily staying at Camp Solidarity with thousands more sending donations and holding wildcat walkouts that involved around 40,000 people. The participation of women through the formation of the Daughters of Mother Jones was an essential element of the successful strike.
The strike was a victory against concessions: miners again received their benefits. Pittston had to pay $10 million toward the health care of the miners who had retired before 1974. The mines could stay open with extended shifts, but the amount miners had to work was limited by the agreement. The UMWA got the legal fines against them dropped, which had included $13,000 a day against individual union officials and a total of $64 million against the union.
(image: marshalls attempt to arrest striking miners and their supporters)
Via Freedom Road Socialist Organization (Fight Back!)