May 17: ‘Labor Movie Night’ series presents ‘Matewan,’ tale of West Virginia mineworkers

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The story of a union organizing drive in a 1920 West Virginia coal mining community, “Matewan” will be the next film in the new “Labor Movie Night” series presented by AFSCME Local 3800 and AFSCME Next Wave.

“Matewan” will be shown Friday, May 17 at 6:00 p.m. in Room 467 of the United Labor Centre, 312 Central Ave., Minneapolis.

Written and directed by John Sayles, “Matewan” (1987, 135 minutes, rated PG-13) draws on real-life events that took place in 1920 in the southern West Virginia community of Matewan.

The Stone Mountain Coal Company deployed private detectives to thwart a union organizing drive and divide the workers by bringing in African American and immigrant miners. Union organizers faced the challenge of uniting the diverse workforce, as well-told in the film.

Aided by the Matewan chief of police, the miners resisted the company’s detectives in a final shoot-out on Matewan’s main street.

The Oscar-nominated film stars Chris Cooper, James Earl Jones, Mary McDonnell and Will Oldham.

All are welcome. Admission is free and pizza and beer will be available. Free-will donations will be appreciated.

The “Labor Movie Night” will continue the third Friday of the month.

The next film will be “The Red Tail” (June 21), a documentary about the doomed 2005 aircraft mechanics strike at Northwest Airlines.

For more information, call AFSCME Local 3800 at 612-379-3918.