Unions stick up for the whole working class

Source: Kentucky State AFL-CIO

August 7, 2019

We’re used to union-haters lying about us.

One of their standby falsehoods is the bogus claim that all unions care about is ourselves.

Tuesday‘s rally in support of the protesting Harlan County miners is more proof—as if it were needed—that organized labor sticks up for more than our own.

The miners don’t belong to a union. But Kentucky State AFL-CIO President Bill Londrigan, Secretary-Treasurer Jeff Wiggins and National AFL-CIO Senior Field Representative Dan Justice, were at the rally.

Londrigan spoke from the back of a pickup truck.  So did United Mine Workers of America Secretary-Treasurer Levi Allen.

Steve Earle, UMWA international District 12 Vice President, and District 12 Representative Tim Miller came to the rally as did several dozen UMWA rank-and-filers and members of other unions.

The aggrieved miners worked at the Blackjewel mine. The company “filed for bankruptcy and issued miners cold checks for their last weeks of work, leaving many of them and their families in severe financial stress,” Londrigan said.

He added that the miners “have committed to remain at the mine site and block any coal trains from leaving the property for as long as it takes for them to get what they are owed.”

Meanwhile, family and friends ”have been bringing food and supplies to the miners,” but “they continue to need financial assistance to get them through this difficult period,” Londrigan said.

A bank account is open for those  who wish to send the miners money. Checks should be made payable to “With Love From Harlan” with “Coal Miner Fund“ on the check’s memo line. Checks may be mailed to PO Box 1621, Harlan, KY 40831.

Said Londrigan: ”This is another in a long line of coal companies that have declared bankruptcy and have denied miners the wages, health care and pensions they are owed. The UMWA has been fighting these unscrupulous mine operators for decades and have stood shoulder to shoulder against bankruptcy courts that routinely protect the pay of CEOs, executives and bankers.  With adequate financial assistance these miners can withstand this attack and they value the assistance provided by organized labor.”

Indeed, the “long line” goes back a long way.

History records the bloody “Harlan County War” of the 1930s when wealthy coal barons stubbornly and violently fought to keep the UMWA at bay.

The miners’ struggle inspired “Which Side Are You On,” the famous union song.

Unions are on the side of the whole working class.

Written by: Berry Craig – AFT Local 1360