The other day I watched a documentary about Redstone and its mining history (among other things). A good bulk of the movie focused on the labor struggles. I’m not going to name the movie, though if you’re genuinely interested in seeing it, shoot me and email and I’ll tell you privately. I’m breaking down my observations into three or four posts. This is the first. You (obviously) don’t need to have seen the film to understand what I’m talking about.
One of the things that stuck out at me was the symbiotic relationship between The Corporation and labor. I, of course, had the benefit of 20/20 hindsight. I know what happened to Redstone when the mines shut down. Labor, of course, doesn’t know that. They only know that they’re working in dangerous conditions and breathing dangerous air, for meager wages in the shadow of The Company’s mansions. The Company’s view is not particularly well-represented in the film, but it’s not hard to tell where they were coming from (profits) and had the compulsion to keep wages minimal even though the freight ran smoother when they were able to avoid strikes every three years (if the film’s narrative is to be believed).
The Company went under due to the socialist uprisings in South America, among other things. When they suddenly lost all of their investments, they were bought out by another company. The other company looked at the labor conflicts, the increasing environmental liabilities, and decided to take a pass on most mining in Redstone. When they turned off the pumps of at the last mine, the result was water with so much mineral sludge, the mining of the lake it created is the only mining left in Redstone.
Needless to say, it wasn’t “happily ever after” for the town after that. As bad as the work was, it was still work. As bad as The Company was, they passed on things to the town that they didn’t realize were there until it was gone. The city’s economy, and population, never recovered. The employment prospects there are rather bleak outside of government work.
It’s a more peaceful place, I suppose, with not much to fight over.