If you haven’t seen Harlan County, USA, a documentary movie about coal miners, unionism, the power of pissed-off women, and a sad tale of corporate malfeasance, then you need to go to Netflix or some other source and watch this amazing piece of work—the film won an Academy Award in 1977.
Sure, watching the struggles of hard-working rural-ish folks in southeast Kentucky in the early 1970s may not sound like well-spent time, but, trust me, it is. It is an eye-opening account of both the white and black in the human spirit, of human resistance, both individual and collective, to corporate greed and indifference.
What I saw on “All In” with Chris Hayes last night reminded me of Harlan County, USA. If you are one of those who think some corporations are, besides sources of employment for millions of Americans, a force in society with a tendency to want to run the world their own way, then the following story is for you (by the way: I saw United Mine Worker President Cecil Roberts, the guy who opens the segment below, give a speech a few years ago in California and it brought tears to my eyes):
Vodpod videos no longer available.
As the All In blog points out, such corporate antics are not new:
Such a move would not be unprecedented. When American Airlines’s parent company AMR filed for bankruptcy in 2012, Transport Workers Union president James Little claimed that the company was in part attempting “to get out of bankruptcy what [they] couldn’t get at the table,” and use the process to extract further concessions from unions.
And if they can’t get concessions, they use other, more creative, means.
In any case, when someone says that corporations are trying to “extract further concessions from unions,” it helps to keep in mind that what is really meant is that corporations are trying to extract concessions from workers. It’s just too damn easy for some folks, when they see or hear the word “union,” to think of a fat “union boss” asleep in a chair, when the real damage is done to the worker, in the case of “bankrupt” Patriot Coal, the worker in the coal mine.