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   Vol. 70/No. 3           January 23, 2006  
Support labor defense case
On January 25 the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA), 16 of the workers fighting for a union at the Co-Op coal mine, the Militant, two Salt Lake City dailies, and others face a federal court hearing on a harassment lawsuit filed by C.W. Mining. This is an important moment to broaden support for labor rights and for defending the Militant against this attack.

The purpose of the defamation lawsuit is clear. To intimidate and drain the resources of the union and its supporters. To scare off any paper that dares to quote a worker’s side of the story. All this to clear the way for profit-hungry coal bosses to run roughshod over workers fighting for better wages, dignity, and work safety. The recent deaths of coal miners in West Virginia and the bosses’ disregard for safety there underscore the urgency of organizing the mines and mobilizing union power to protect safety on the job. The Militant’s truthful, “tell it like it is” coverage of the Co-Op miners’ unionization battle makes it a special target of the coal bosses in this suit.

Such retaliatory lawsuits are a common tactic used by bosses against the labor movement, often to block workers from organizing a union. Coal giant Massey Energy recently filed, lost, and then refiled a defamation suit against the UMWA, seeking $300 million in alleged damages. Cintas Corp., which owns industrial laundries around the country, is bankrolling a suit against UNITE HERE and the Teamsters on phony charges of harassing laundry workers. Whether or not the companies score a court victory, the legal fees and related expenses can bleed dry a workers organization.

As supporters of the Militant Fighting Fund engage in discussions about these questions with fellow workers and others, they will find opportunities to win new support for this defense effort. Nearly a dozen new endorsements from union locals and officers in the past month affirm this potential. Many endorsers, both new and those who signed on earlier, will be eager to help raise funds to ensure that this attack on labor is defeated.
Related articles:
‘Stand strong in defense of labor rights’
Campaign to defeat retaliatory suit by Utah coal boss gains support  
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