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In 1937, as labor turmoil sweeps across western Pennsylvania, traveling beer salesman Pete Bonner picks up hitchhiker Joe Miravich, a blacklisted coal miner running from the law. The two overhear a plot to kill a national union leader in Pittsburgh and warn the intended victim, only to become targets of the man who ordered the assassination, a mysterious industrialist who conspires with racketeers to control mill-town politics. As the industrial region moves from Depression to postwar prosperity, the businessman and union militant form an unlikely alliance to defend themselves. A violent showdown reveals the exploitative nature of the economic and political powers that would, forty years later, turn the mill-towns of the Monongahela Valley into blighted relics of the industrial era.