By ROGER HORTON
Frankly, I am tired of watching coal mining jobs disappear. I am tired of watching families lose homes and cars, lose their life-savings, their retirement and health plans. I am tired of watching men and women who should be working and raising a family, who don’t want handouts and just want to work, standing in unemployment lines.
Every year, each working Appalachian coal miner provides the coal that heats and lights 773 homes across the country. Think about that for a minute and let it sink in. Each one of you takes care of the basic needs of 773 American families for a full year. A lot of people understand this. They know what closing down much of the nation’s coal-fired power plants means to their wallets and pocketbooks.
It seems that the only people who don’t understand this are in the White House, at the EPA and in the offices of the big “environmental” special interest groups – like the Sierra Club, the Rainforest Action Network and others. And make no mistake about it – though they label themselves as “citizens” groups — these organizations make big money from donations by well-meaning people who often don’t understand what the organizations are doing to the people of Appalachia.
And it is time they do.
It is long past time that they see first-hand what is happening. And it is long past time that the Obama Administration, the EPA, at the big money “green” special interest groups and their friends in the media are forced to see who they are hurting, to hear the voices of who they are hurting and maybe get a little dose of a good ol’ fashioned labor action.
I have an idea and I want to put it out to you, our members, to the people of our communities and to our union leaders.
It is time – way past time – to bring out the burn barrels, picket lines and shacks. These organizations claim they are for economic justice and fairness. It’s time to call them out on that, to tear away the sham and show the world their hypocrisy.
It’s time to put picket lines up in front of the EPA’s headquarters, in front of the White House and most of all in front of the corporate headquarters of these “green” special interest groups. It is time to bring out the old song “Which Side Are You On?”
And it is time to make those picket lines stick. To commit to the long haul and do what John L. Lewis would have done – take the fight to the enemy. We need to do to them what we would have done 20 years ago to someone who tried to take away our jobs. I have spent time in jail – many of you have to during strikes – and I don’t mind spending a few more if that’s what it takes to save the jobs of our coal miners.
I simply don’t want to sit back and take it anymore. I don’t want even one more coal miner to lose his or her job. I don’t want even one more retiree to lose their pensions or health care because a company is forced into bankruptcy. I don’t want anyone to spend even one more day worried about whether they will have a job when they get to work.
I am tired of this and I know you are as well. Now the question I pose to you, the reader, and to the nation’s labor leaders is very simple – “Which side are you on?” Don’t just talk about the problem. Don’t just talk a good game. It is time to stand up and be counted.
Which side are you on?
Roger Horton is president of United Citizens for Coal.