More than 1,000 coal miners at Warrior Met Coal in Brookwood, Alabama have been on strike since April 1st. Their venture capital-backed employers seem determined to starve them out, so local supporters have organized a benefit concert to boost the miners’ strike fund and support their ongoing fight against the bosses.
The Alabama Strike Fest will kick off at noon on Saturday, May 22nd in the parking lot of the United Mine Workers of America Local 2397 union hall in Brookwood. The event has a $20 suggested donation but is free for UMWA members and their families, and will feature performances by Drive-By Truckers’ Mike Cooley, Birmingham gospel punks Lee Bains III & The Glory Fires, and UMWA members themselves, as well as comedy by Drew Morgan of the WellRed Comedy Tour and D.J. Lewis. Free barbeque and chili will be provided by the Alabama AFL-CIO.
Alabama Strike Fest is part of a weekend-long fundraising drive by The Valley Labor Report, a weekly talk radio show that focuses on workers’ struggles, and will be livestreamed on their Youtube page and Twitch channels. All funds raised by the concert and livestream will go directly to the UMWA District 20’s Strike Aid Fund, with the organization also accepting individual donations.
“We’re all generations-deep Alabamians, love Alabama more than anyplace, and try to support the people of Alabama however we can,” Lee Bains III tells Rolling Stone. “We’ve been working on a record for the past year and a half or so that deals a lot with Alabama’s people’s history and how much that has to do with the way organized labor has enriched and championed the lives of our people here.
“Union miners helped to build our home towns of Birmingham, Bessemer and the surrounding areas, and were on the front lines of struggles for workers’ rights, integration, children’s rights, and incarcerated people’s rights,” he adds. “There is a deep, rich history of Alabamians fighting against power structures for themselves and each other, and it’s so inspiring and galvanizing to see Alabamians reclaiming that heritage.”