Harlan County, USA

Watch Harlan County, USA

"Which Side Are You On?"
  • PG
  • 1976
  • 1 hr 43 min
  • 8.3  (5,538)
  • 80

Harlan County, USA is a documentary film that was produced and directed by Barbara Kopple, a long time advocate of worker and civil rights. The film follows what was known as the Brookside Strike, when around 180 coal miners in 1973 fought for better working conditions against Eastover Coal Company, owned by Duke Power Company. The documentary is distinctive because instead of narration, the story is told with the words of those experiencing the situation. The filmmakers spent years with families documenting their difficulties after the strike. The issues covered are safe working conditions, higher wages and more fair overall labor practices. The strikers picketed at the New York stock exchange and there are also filmed interviews with the people who were affected by black lung disease. There is also coverage of miners being attacked while striking. The Harlan County strike also involved abolishing the no-strike section of their contract. The miners were also concerned that if they accepted the provision it would limit their ability to influence local work conditions. This point was later mooted when the UMWA contract was instead turned into a global agreement. The strike goes on for almost a year, with each side finally wielding weapons. Kopple decided to continue filming - or at least, appear to, since the fact that they were there actually helped to lessen violence. The film reports statistics about the various companies and workers supporting the strikers. For example, Duke Power Company enjoyed profits that increased at aroud 170 percent that year. Striking miners, however, were living in squalor without running water and other utilities. Their pay increase amounted to 4% despite the cost of living rising above at least 7%. Also featured is Joseph Yablonski, the union representative who later lost an election due to supposed corruption. Later he and his family were murdered in their residence. Associate Tony Boyle goes from good health to being sickly and frail in a wheelchair. He faced a conviction for paying $20,000 to a union council member to arrange for the murders of Yablonski and his family.

Harlan County, USA
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Harlan County U.S.A.
Harlan County U.S.A.

Trailer - 3 min 1 sec

Description
Harlan County, USA is a documentary film that was produced and directed by Barbara Kopple, a long time advocate of worker and civil rights. The film follows what was known as the Brookside Strike, when around 180 coal miners in 1973 fought for better working conditions against Eastover Coal Company, owned by Duke Power Company. The documentary is distinctive because instead of narration, the story is told with the words of those experiencing the situation. The filmmakers spent years with families documenting their difficulties after the strike.

The issues covered are safe working conditions, higher wages and more fair overall labor practices. The strikers picketed at the New York stock exchange and there are also filmed interviews with the people who were affected by black lung disease. There is also coverage of miners being attacked while striking.

The Harlan County strike also involved abolishing the no-strike section of their contract. The miners were also concerned that if they accepted the provision it would limit their ability to influence local work conditions. This point was later mooted when the UMWA contract was instead turned into a global agreement.

The strike goes on for almost a year, with each side finally wielding weapons. Kopple decided to continue filming - or at least, appear to, since the fact that they were there actually helped to lessen violence.

The film reports statistics about the various companies and workers supporting the strikers. For example, Duke Power Company enjoyed profits that increased at aroud 170 percent that year. Striking miners, however, were living in squalor without running water and other utilities. Their pay increase amounted to 4% despite the cost of living rising above at least 7%.

Also featured is Joseph Yablonski, the union representative who later lost an election due to supposed corruption. Later he and his family were murdered in their residence. Associate Tony Boyle goes from good health to being sickly and frail in a wheelchair. He faced a conviction for paying $20,000 to a union council member to arrange for the murders of Yablonski and his family.

  • Release Date
    1976
  • MPAA Rating
    PG
  • Runtime
    1 hr 43 min
  • Language
    English
  • IMDB Rating
    8.3  (5,538)
  • Metascore
    80