The Socialist Workers Party urges workers to get on buses or join caravans heading for Washington, D.C., for the Sept. 8 United Mine Workers of America rally to fight coal bosses’ continuing efforts to eliminate health care and pension benefits for thousands of retired coal miners and their families.
UMWA members have tirelessly fought attempts by the owners of coal mines to inflict devastating blows on medical care miners won in massive struggles — for themselves and their communities.
It took big labor battles to win the health and welfare fund, paid for by royalties on coal production, to cover pensions and medical care, including the strike of 400,000 union coal miners in April 1946.
With the world contraction of capitalist production and trade and the steep fall in the price of coal, money flowing into the health and retirement fund has slowed and many coal bosses are using bankruptcy laws — which prioritize creditors and give short shrift to workers — to tear up union contracts and end pension and health care obligations to miners.
I joined thousands of active and retired miners and their supporters in a series of UMWA-organized marches in 2013 to protest attacks on retired miners’ benefits by Peabody Energy and its spinoff, Patriot Coal. The ruthless capitalist owners of Peabody placed all their UMWA-organized mines in Patriot, then used bankruptcy laws to attack workers’ gains.
The Sept. 8 action will speak not only for tens of thousands of coal miners but for millions of workers whose pensions have been threatened or reduced and millions more whose Social Security benefits fall far short of providing enough to live on.
The action will underline the importance of organizing labor unions and using their power, including in the fight for lifetime health care for all.
Actions like this increase the confidence of the working class. They strengthen our ability to build a movement capable of taking power out of the hands of the capitalists, establishing a workers and farmers government and joining the worldwide struggle for socialism.
All out for the Sept. 8 UMWA rally in Washington!
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