Planning future for coal miners

An editorial from The Intelligencer/Wheeling News-Register

WHEELING, W.Va. — At the top of the agenda for the United Mine Workers of America’s 125th anniversary convention this week ought to be a vow not to get fooled again. Nearly 500 delegates from UMW locals throughout the nation should insist on it.

“We want to make sure there is a future for coal miners and other members of our union,” a UMW spokesman told a reporter of the convention, being held in Las Vegas.

Thousands of miners, both union and non-union, face bleak futures because of the man UMW officials helped get elected president, Barack Obama. In July 2008, union President Cecil Roberts urged UMW members to support Obama for president.

“Sen. Obama is far and away more supportive of the continued use of coal as a strong part of our nation’s energy mix well into the future,”?Roberts said in comparing Obama to his 2008 opponent, Sen. John McCain. Roberts added that Obama “understands the importance of coal to our nation’s economy and the economic impact coal mining brings to the communities where our members and their families live.”

Obama indeed may understand that, but it does not seem to have given him second thoughts about his campaign against coal and affordable electricity.

Though Obama’s anti-coal stance was perfectly clear in 2008, the UMW supported him. It no longer does – but most of the damage already has been done.

Labor unions traditionally support Democrat candidates. What will the UMW do later this year and next if Hillary Clinton becomes the party’s nominee for president?

Clinton, too, has made her agenda on coal obvious. If anything, she wants to ramp up the offensive Obama has pursued so effectively.

So what will the union do? Will UMW officials follow tradition and endorse her? Will they withhold their endorsement from anyone, even if it is obvious the Republican nominee would offer a better future for miners? Delegates to the union’s convention should be discussing that – and instructing national UMW leaders that this time around, they need to do what really is best for the membership.

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