Told with great intimacy and compassion, Bootleg Coal Rebellion: The Pennsylvania Miners Who Seized an Industry, 1925-1942 (PM Press, 2022) uncovers a long-buried history of resistance and resilience among depression-era miners in Pennsylvania, who sunk their own mines on company grounds and fought police, bankers, coal companies and courts to form a union that would safeguard not just their livelihoods, but protect their collective autonomy as citizens and workers for decades. Community and Labor organizer Mitch Troutman brings this explosive and accessible American tale to life through the bootleggers’ own words. Scholars, historians, organizers and activists will celebrate this story of the people who literally seized mountains and stood their ground to create the Equalization movement, the miners’ union democracy movement, and the Communist-led Unemployed Councils of the anthracite region. This epic story of work, love, and community stands as a testament to the power of collective action; a story that is sorely needed as communities today rise to confront neoliberal policies ravaging our planet.
Mitch Troutman, former Trevorton resident, author, activist, and co-founder of Anthracite Unite, on his new book: The Bootleg Coal Rebellion: The Pennsylvania Miners Who Seized an Industry, 1925–1942. We got an update on his schedule in The Valley, book signings and why the message of bootleg mining might be a timely message today.