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On April 5, 1989, 1,700 members of the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) went on strike against the Pittston Coal Group, a company with historical roots in the anthracite region of Pennsylvania. The strike occurred in southwestern Virginia, eastern Kentucky, and southern West Virginia. The UMWA's contract with Pittston had expired months earlier and among the issues in dispute were attempts by the company to jettison its retirees from health and welfare benefits and to assert greater control over work rules. Also at issue were job security and disagreement over pay and benefits. The strike ranks among the most covered by the media of any in modern U.S. history. Nightly news broadcasts on major networks brought the strike into the living rooms of millions of Americans. Moreover, the UMWA produced a film on the strike in conjunction with its 100th anniversary (1890–1990) entitled Out of Darkness: The Mineworkers' Story, directed by Academy Award–winner Barbara Kopple, who also produced Harlan County, USA in the 1970s.
Pennsylvania History is the official journal of the Pennsylvania Historical Association, and copyright remains with PHA as the publisher of this journal.