Back in April, UMW workers protested in Charleston, W.V.
This is one rotten situation, and one that's not unique these days, because our nation is overrun with weasels and thieves. These workers kept our lights on, and we owe them our support:
FAIRMONT, W.Va. -- Thirty people were arrested Tuesday as some 5,000 coal miners and their families protested bankrupt Patriot Coal Corp.'s plans to cut benefits, a plan the United Mine Workers of America says amounts to a broken promise to tens of thousands of workers who made Patriot's predecessor companies profitable for decades.It's hard to believe, brothers and sisters. It's hard to believe that these Lexus-driving, latte-drinking, pocket-picking, health care-robbing, Wall Street coupon clippers, tax avoiders, pension-stealing, health care-robbing SOBs aren't in jail. - President Leo Gerard, United Steel Workers.
The rally on a football practice field at Fairmont State University in north-central West Virginia was the 14th protest so far, but UMWA President Cecil Roberts promised there will be many more. The next will be back in St. Louis, where Patriot and several other coal operators are headquartered.
[...] All had stood in the rain or sat on lawn chairs for several hours after traveling from Alabama, Illinois, Kentucky, Missouri, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia.
"I'm not discouraged by the rain," Holt Baker declared, "because that's just the tears of the righteous trying to wash away the injustice of Patriot Coal."
United Steelworkers President Leo Gerard told the crowd that every union is threatened if Patriot gets away with shedding legacy costs and breaking promises. The son of a coal miner, Gerard said his union would not exist without the UMWA, and the two will stand together.
"It's hard to believe, brothers and sisters," he said. "It's hard to believe that these Lexus-driving, latte-drinking, pocket-picking, health care-robbing, Wall Street coupon clippers, tax avoiders, pension-stealing, health care-robbing SOBs aren't in jail."
From The Nation:
The UMWA just suffered its biggest blow since Pittston cancelled thousands of retirees’ health insurance cards in ’89. On May 29, a federal judge gave Patriot Coal, which declared bankruptcy last year, permission to end the existing health plan for 23,000 retirees and their families and replace it with what the union says is an inadequately funded Voluntary Employees Benefits Association or trust, administered by the union.
The ruling also allowed Patriot Coal—which many believe was explicitly created to fail by the coal giants Peabody and Arch– permission to terminate the union’s current collective bargaining agreement and replace it one that reduces pay, benefits and time off for current workers.