UMWA, Massey neighbors and Enviros Speak Truth To
May 20, 2003
Photos by Vivian Stockman
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Reality a challenge to Massey Energy's CEO Don Blankenship
Special note for Marriott security personnel
and others investigating the miners, coalfield residents and environmentalists
who dare to speak up about what seems to us to be acts of corporate
terrorism committed by Massey Energy: Welcome to OVEC's
website. One of your team asked for our website address so he could
check out our photos and "save on developing the film" he took
of people picketing the Massey Energy shareholders' meeting. No doubt,
he'd like to identify and investigate us, too.
As you will
see, we have nothing to hide. We are peacefully practicing our right to
free speech as we expose what Massey is doing to our communities, to the
environment, to organized labor and to our future.
your time will be better spent investigating Massey Energy. You may even
want to shine the light on your own company, Marriott
International, which has invested in what are apparently
sham "synfuel" companies, which are allegedly bilking
American taxpayers for billions of dollars. No wonder Massey holds its
annual meetings at Marriott hotels. Perhaps your time will be better
spent investigating these companies, rather than the senior ladies of
Sylvester who are working to save their homes from Massey Energy, the
self-proclaimed "good corporate neighbor."
ain't no power like the power of the people, cause the power of the
people don't stop! --traditional protest chant
Many thanks to
Massey Energy for helping to solidify the good relationship between the
United Mine Workers of America, coalfield residents and environmental
activists. While enviros and miners don't (yet!) agree on all
coal-related issues (why not envision the United Mine and Alternative
Energy Workers of America?), we sure do agree that Massey Energy is a
terrible corporate neighbor.
So, UMWA ferried two van loads of
enviros and/or citizen activists and six vanloads of miners to
Chantilly, Va. for the annual Massey Energy stockholders' meeting.
Two years ago, Massey held the meeting in Charleston, W. Va., and we
greeted the shareholders with protests, as we did last year when the
meeting was in Richmond, Va. As an assistant to UMWA president
Cecil Roberts said, "They can run, but wherever they are going, we
are going too."
By 8 a.m., over 100 of us where stationed outside
the Marriott grounds with signs denouncing Massey's bad corporate behavior.
We couldn't picket directly outside the meeting, as Massey this time
chose a hotel without any public sidewalks surrounding it. Hmmm...will
next year's meeting be in Qatar?
Several union members passed out to
stockholders a scathing
May Forbes Magazine article on Don "Sinkingship"
Blankenship, as well as a list of all of Massey's environmental
disasters since its massive Oct. 2000 sludge spill from a coal waste impoundment
at a mountaintop removal site in Kentucky.
By the time all the
stockholders were inside the meeting, we put down our signs and marched
inside peacefully to a meeting room the Union rented. Marriott security personnel
where obviously nervous, though we abided by all their requests.
people from our miners-residents-enviros coalition had shareholder proxies
and were thus able to enter the meeting. UMWA
president Cecil Roberts, Coal River Mountain Watch's Judy
Bonds, Sylvester resident Mary Miller and Carolyn Johnson of Citizens
Coal Council each gave Blankenship and the Massey board of directors
a vigorous scolding (see news accounts in sidebar). The
shareholders then kicked some corporate butt by overwhelmingly voting
(72%) to limit future severance packages for company big shots.
a little reality finally hit Don Blankenship and the Massey big boys in
the only place they have any feelings--their bank accounts
The vans arrive.
Massey offers so many "sign opportunities" as it messes
with people --even
their own stockholders-- and the environment in so many ways.
UMWA president Cecil Roberts, center, speaks with coalfield
UMWA's Mike Caputo (white shirt in center), also a WV House of
Delegates member from Marion County, listens as the rally begins.
Marriott security snaps pictures of people exercising their rights.
Elaine Purkey belts out a protest tune
while UMWA's Donnie Samms holds the mike.
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