A letter from Wilma Steele

“My husband was an UMWA deep miner in Mingo County. He had always been a hard worker, never missed a day and worked every Sat. they offered him. Past bosses that had worked with him, often heard he was laid off and would get him a job at their mine. Then a very well thought-out plan was put in place. Lay off all these old UMWA miners and close down all the union deep mines getting rid of men with 20-30 years experience in the mines. At the same, they opened non-union strip mines. The heartbreak was everywhere.
Now the saddest part of this story was the silence – where was the public outcry? Where were the politicians screaming for their job? Did they go to the president and and demand help for them? NO! They were told you are lazy union miners, this is the unions fault. Then they put deep miners back to work, but all non-union and would not hire men with 20-40 yrs. experience.My husband had one interview with a Massey man that’s main topic was how he felt about the UMWA. They didn’t care about a great worker. Terry would not throw off on the union and he got no Job. I’ll tell you the truth, I’m grateful for that now!
Today’s miners, they have a plan for you too! Have MTR miners take the coal out twice as fast with half the workers. Then when the coal is gone, you will be laid off and you will blame the environmentalist, You will vote for republicans while they work to take away any benefits that you may have earned.
Look at the story of the UMWA miners at Patriot Coal. Where are our politicians? The only politicians that stood up to save our health care were Rockefeller and Byrd. I see the UMWA leaders standing, tree huggers, and retired miners but where are the others, where are your coal friends?
My husband had to leave the mountains he loved and he worked in another state for awhile. It was a terrible time. I should hate MTR miners for what they helped the coal industry do to us! I do not. I know first hand the pain they are going through!”

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