West Virgina mine workers take a day of protest against anti-Obama campaign

Mine workers are tough, I remember being at Solidarity Day in DC in the 90's and meeting quite a few with camouflaged UMWA shirts which said "victory" in the middle of flames, in memory of a strike win in which shot were fired on all sides. Yes, as we have seen in a recent episode of Morgan Spurlock's 30Days, where the star had to live for 30 as a noobie coal miner, US coal miners are tough as nails.

So what happened when the NRA showed up unannounced with video camera's in hand, looking for workers to bad mouth Barack Obama, the candidate who their union has endorsed?

The workers took action, according to The State Journal :
Blacksville #2 Mine Idle After 440 Workers Stay Home
Posted Monday, September 29, 2008 ; 06:20 PM
Updated Saturday, October 4, 2008 ; 03:08 PM
Story by Courtney Dunn
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UMWA Workers Took Memorial Day in Protest

img526/4503/wsazpixumwanra1fa4.jpgBLACKSVILLE -- Coal production at a mine in Monongalia County came to a halt today when every union miner stayed home, as part of a political protest.

It was an idle day Monday at the Blacksville #2 Mine.

More than 440 workers who are members of the United Mine Workers of America took what's called a Memorial Day instead of going to work.

Union officials say they took the day to protest after a film crew from the National Rifle Assocation showed up at the Consol mine last week to interview union workers.

They say the crew tried to get union coal miners to speak out against Barack Obama.

The UMWA has endorsed the democratic presidential nominee.

"This was a surprise visit," explained VP Local 1702, Safety Chairman Eric Greathouse, "and a lot of the miners felt this was a direct slap in the face of the union because they were trying to coerce our people into saying things against Barack Obama."

"Consol doesn't let anybody on their property - never," said Safety Committee Member Mark Dorsey, "And for them to let the NRA come on the property and solicit our membership was totally uncalled for. We made our endorsement to our political process and we didn't bother them and they shouldn't be harassing our membership over this."

The workers will return to work at 12:01 Tuesday morning.

A spokesperson for Consol said the company is not issuing any comment on the day.

Cecil Roberts, the president of the parent union, explains in The Charleston Daily Mail, on 9/29:
Our members' reaction to this event has little to do with the NRA itself, or even its film crew. The NRA is free to say whatever it wants about any candidate for office, and has never shown a reluctance to do so, whether what it says about those candidates is true or not.

Likewise, our members are free to say whatever they want about any subject they want, and we have not and do not seek to limit their right to do that.

Anyone who has ever spent any time at a mine portal at shift change knows UMWA members - indeed, all coal miners - are not shy about speaking their minds.

Let me be clear: It was not the union leadership that called for a Memorial Day at the mine, it was the members who work at that mine who asked the leadership to call for it.

That's how the process for Memorial Days works in the UMWA.
And continues:

You ask if the union is "for miners or Obama?" It is precisely because we are for miners that we are also for Barack Obama. Here's why:
  • We believe miners have a right to a safe and healthy job, where the government agencies that are supposed to be watchdogs for safety actually enforce the law instead of coddle the mine operators. McCain has not said one word about the outrageous lack of enforcement of mine safety and health laws in the Bush administration, while Barack Obama has consistently promised to appoint someone to be in charge of the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration who will put miners' health and safety first.
  • We believe miners and their families have a right to health care and retirement security. McCain's proposals to tax health care benefits and privatize Social Security puts both of those rights at significant risk.
  • We believe miners have a right to a job. McCain has, on more than one occasion, written legislation in Congress that would have meant drastic cuts in coal production in Appalachia and a corresponding elimination of thousands of coal miners' jobs.
Obama has consistently said he supports developing the clean coal technology we need to use coal to generate power in America for decades to come.

There are dozens more reasons why the members of our union voted, through our nationwide internal political action process, to endorse Obama for president.

National polls indicate that more and more Americans, including our friends and neighbors in West Virginia, agree with us that at a time when millions of working families are struggling to keep a roof over their heads and gas in their vehicles, our nation needs new leadership that will be a clean break from the failed policies of the Bush administration and its sidekick, John McCain.
Picture from WSAZ Channel 3

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