Matewan is a story which focuses around the violent labor disputes which occurred in the West Virginia coal fields in 1920. During these days, there was no benefits and job security for workers as the Stone Mountain Coal Company displays. Due to the efforts by the workers of the coal fields to form a union, the Stone Mountain Coal Company publicized to their workers that those who were in unions were to be replaced and pay cuts would be rationed out. Outrage ensued between the workers and the new African American workers that were being brought in.
However, Joe Kenehan, who worked for the United Mine Workers, decided that if the replacement workers joined the union, the company had to accept it as they wouldn’t have workers. In order to stop the idea of a labor union, the coal company sent C. E. Lively to investigate the workers undercover. Lively then brings in two armed agents from the Baldwin-Felt Detective Agency handle the work he cannot as he is undercover. This entire situation escalates into a violent shootout and reinforcement agents from Baldwin-Felts came to evict workers who were part of a labor union.
A total of nine people were killed during the shootout where workers just wanted to have basic rights. Apparent ethical issues are portrayed throughout the movie. In today’s society, labor unions are prominent and respected. Undercover agents are not being sent in order to destroy the unions which are protecting rights of workers. Corporations back in 1920 did not want to deal with the cost of fair pay and protecting their workers. Until OSHA was enacted, most companies sought to find the cheapest form of labor.
Also, the event of a shootout due to workers wanting their jobs to be secure is unexplainable. Money and power corrupts the minds of humans and fallouts such as the one which occurred in West Virginia between coal field workers and the Stone Mountain Coal Company. As stated in lecture nine, America is a materialistic country. Most of the citizens overlook the value in everyday things others may long for their entire lives but attain it. The advancement of technology, and the accessibility of nearly any luxuries, has caused degeneration in the virtues of American’s minds.
Overlooking the necessities to sustain a basic life, the people of the nation look towards the excess. One can easily live without the newest tablet device, yet they shall still buy it. The worst part of that is how that same person with the tablet may also be getting their ends meet by using food stamps. Americans have embedded their mindsets in the goal of obtaining materialistic items to keep themselves content, all the while forgetting the values humans have been contempt with for centuries.
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