This song was written by Florence Reece in 1930 – 1931 during the bloody campaign to organize workers in Harlan County, KY. They were fighting for safer working conditions. Mine safety has improved since then, mainly because of the mine workers union, but workers in many mines, like the Upper Big Branch in Montcoal, WV have no union. If they complain about safety, they are out of a job. In this area and in the West Virginia legislature, Big Coal is still king.