CHARLESTON, W.Va. – The United Mine Workers union wants to save Blair Mountain but decided against joining this week’s 50-mile trek to advocate for the site’s preservation.
The union and the marchers both want to save the Logan County landmark, which was the site of a bloody 1921 battle over unionization. The mountain could be surface-mined by the coal companies that own it. The marchers also want stronger unions in the state, another point the UMW can support.
“Our major problem is, while there are people participating in this march to preserve Blair Mountain, there are other people participating for whom that is not their only goal,” said UMW spokesman Phil Smith.
Many of the marchers want to see an end to mountaintop removal mining. Some marchers want to see an end to the coal industry altogether.
Smith said the union talked with march organizers early on about participating in the protest but ultimately decided against it.
“That’s obviously something we disagree on,” he said. “The real message of Blair Mountain is when you work together, when you all seek a common goal and be unified and solid, you can win something.