Letter to the Editor: Some UMWA members also members of OVEC

By The West Virginia Record | Jun 21, 2007

In a June 18 issue of The West Virginia Record, we noticed two strange bedfellows -- Steve Roberts and Kenny Perdue -- writing together in an all out attack on the Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition.

At first glance we wondered what in the world would these two have in common, but after reading a few lines of their article, it became quite clear. One is a user and the other seems to not have enough sense to know that he is being used.

Any time the Chamber of Commerce becomes involved in an issue or backs an issue, you can bet it does not have the interests of the working man in mind.

As citizens of southern West Virginia, and as people who have worked and made their living working in the underground mining industry, we take issue with Mr. Roberts and Mr. Perdue. Mountaintop removal does not create jobs. It costs jobs. It rapes and completely devastates the mountains, streams, and communities.

Certain organizations always want the union on their side -- when it benefits their cause. These groups never seem to be around when the union is fighting for safety issues, health benefits, or pensions.

Mr. Roberts and Mr. Perdue don't seem to understand that what OVEC is asking the courts to do is to enforce the law. The Clean Water Act that was passed by Congress was supposed to protect the streams and rivers, thus protecting the citizens that live where the mining is taking place.

Our homeplaces are being destroyed. Not only for our lifetime, but for generations to follow. We are working to end mountaintop removal because we are working to protect our families, our homes, our water and our mountains.

If coal is such an "economic cornerstone" why are we consistently one of the poorest states in the nation? Why are the coal counties consistently among the poorest counties in the state? Go to McDowell County, to Keystone, Kimball, Welch, or Gary Hollow, and look at what out-of-state coal barons have wrought.

Mr. Perdue and Mr. Roberts are like the politicians in the 1940s and '50s who told the people of McDowell they were part of the billion-dollar coalfields.

The only difference between McDowell and Mingo, Logan, and Boone counties is the destruction is greater -- by that we mean it will be worse in Mingo, Boone and Logan. Not only will the jobs be gone, but also our homeplaces, our precious water and our beautiful mountains. Most of the money made will be whisked out of state, and our children will be left with bleak futures.

So, my "economic cornerstone" brothers, when you take your seat at the Friends of Coal Bowl,just look who else is in the privilege box with you -- Massey CEO Don Blankenship, coal baron Buck Harless and the Walker Cat and Rish Equipment CEOs. None of these men have anything in common with coal miners, except that they make the money while the miners risk their lives.

We are opposed to these owners breaking the law and carelessly putting our miners and our families in danger for the sake of their own personal gain. We need to stand up and demand good paying jobs, clean water, safe homes, and an end to illegal mining.

This letter is from people who live in southern West Virginia and are members of OVEC and yes, Mr. Perdue, we are also members of the UMWA.

Terry Steele, Member of Local 1440

Jim Foster, Member of Local 1503

Charles Branham, Member of Local 9603

Charles Nelson, Member of Local 6608

Paul Nelson, Member of Local 7086

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