On April 5, 1989 the United Mine Workers (UMW) called a strike against the Pittston Coal Group for unfair labor practices. Miners had worked 14 months without a contract before the UMW called the strike. Among the practices cited by UMW were the discontinuing of medical benefits for pensioners, widows, and the disabled; refusal to contribute to a benefit trust established in 1950 for miners who retired before 1974; and refusing to bargain in good faith. Miners in Virginia, Kentucky and West Virginia struck against Pittston. The miners and their families engaged in a civil disobedience campaign against the company. The strike led to violence between strikers and company representatives; state troopers were called out to arrest striking miners. The strike ended on February 20, 1990 when miners voted to ratify a contract with Pittston.
The Pittston Coal Company Strike Tape contains footage of strike activities in Southwest Virginia taken by WKPT-TV, Kingsport, Tennessee, in 1989.