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Vol. 75/No. 15      April 18, 2011

Miners back Wisconsin unions

Pennsylvania: ‘Today it’s public
workers, tomorrow it’s coal miners’

WAYNESBURG, Pennsylvania—Chanting “We are union!” coal miners and their supporters marched to the Greene County Fairgrounds April 1 to rally in support of public workers fighting government efforts to curb union rights. In spite of snow and rain, the rally, called by the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA), drew more than 3,000 miners from West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Maryland, and beyond.

“Today it’s the public employees. Tomorrow it’s the steelworkers. Tomorrow it’s the coal miners,” UMWA president Cecil Roberts said, referring to the struggles in Wisconsin, Ohio, Indiana, and elsewhere against legislation aimed at curbing the bargaining rights of public workers. Among those addressing the rally was Wisconsin AFL-CIO secretary-treasurer Stephanie Bloomingdale.

Baldemar Velasquez, president of the Farm Labor Organizing Committee, also addressed the rally. He came with a contingent of farm workers from northern Ohio. Velasquez announced that in September, tomato workers and others from that region would be holding a one-day strike in solidarity with the public workers.

The UMWA is in the midst of negotiating a new contract with the Bituminous Coal Operators’ Association, which includes coal companies employing some 10,000 union miners in the eastern coalfields. The five-year accord expires December 31.

—Paul Pederson

Birmingham, Alabama: ‘A wrong
to one is a wrong to all’

BIRMINGHAM, Alabama—The “We Are One” rally here drew 500 people, including a large number of UMWA members.

A leaflet distributed at the action said, “Alabama Senate Bill 310 abolishes the tenure law, the fair dismissal act, and 70 years of job protection for 125,000 school employees.” Urging participation in an action April 13 against the bill, Vi Parramore, president of the Jefferson County American Federation of Teachers, told the rally, “We are asking our union brothers to join us in Montgomery,” the state capital.

UMWA District 20 president Daryl Dewberry said at the rally, “A wrong to one is a wrong to all. We will be next if we don’t stand up now.” Many miners took the day off work in order to participate in the rally.

—Jacob Perasso and Rachele Fruit

Related articles:
Actions across U.S. stand up to union busting, back Black rights
Wisconsin: 1,000s rally for 7th week
Striking Machinists rally in Ohio
Benefits for our class vs. ‘fringes’ for a few
Rallies answer union-busting across U.S.
Our solidarity surprises them  
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