Based on an actual strike against the Empire Zinc Mine in New Mexico, the film deals with the prejudice against the Mexican-American workers, who struck to attain wage parity with Anglo workers in other mines and to be treated with dignity by the bosses. The film is an early treatment of feminism, because the wives of the miners play a pivotal role in the strike, against their husbands wishes. In the end, the greatest victory for the workers and their families is the realization that prejudice and poor treatment are conditions that are not always imposed by outside forces. This film was written, directed and produced by members of the original "Hollywood Ten," who were blacklisted for refusing to answer Congressional inquiries on First Amendment grounds.
Salt Of The Earth is best known as a blacklisted film made by many of the artists whose lives were destroyed by HUAC and the complicity of the film industry. While the film's very exsistance is a tribute to the determination of the artists to do the right thing and not be silenced, it is much more than that. It is also a moving film tribute to the underclass of America who suffer greatly due to injustice and inequality. The film portrays the strike of Chicano mine workers in New Mexico. Their demands, which the company took 15 months to meet, included such outrages as safety, equality, and indoor plumbing. The most interesting aspect of the film is the way in which the women of the community are forced to take a leading role. By linking the oppression of the workers to the workers' oppression of their wives, the film becomes not only a pro-union film but also a feminist one. The story is stirring, and the scenes where the women are attacked for standing by their men are unforgetable. Salt of the Earth probably has more to do with everyday American lives than 99 percent of Hollywood films. Its humane portrayal of regular people fighting for their rights cannot help but awaken the revoluntionary elements in us all.