This paper explicitly addresses the role internal union politics played in the rank-and-file rejection of the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA)-Bituminous Coal Operators Association (BCOA) contract in March 1981. The strike decision is viewed as having both political and economic components and as being rooted in the specific history and traditions of the UMWA. Using a unique data set, a statistically significant relationship between the vote for challenger Richard Trumka and the vote for the strike is found. Miners struck for many reasons in 1981. This study concludes that one of those reasons was to protest the union leadership.