The year is 1922. In southern West Virginia, coal miners and coal operators have been at war for the past five years. The miners are on strike; they want a union and an end to the industrial serfdom which defines their lives. They live in squalid and isolated mining towns, owned lock, stock, and barrel by their employers. Their streets are patrolled by company police, who take a dim view of the Bill of Rights. When they lose their jobs, they lose their homes. To get work in the brutally dangerous mines, they must sign "yellow dog" contracts, swearing that they are not union members and will not join a union while working for the company.
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