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After a West Virginia legislative session fraught with bad bills such as the weakening of the selenium standard for streams and making the contents of the toxic fracking fluid a “trade secret,” there were a couple of bright spots this past week. One of which occurred when The House of Delegates on Monday called for bankrupt Patriot Coal Corp. to honor its promises to around 23,000 retired miners and their families.
A House resolution adopted 93-4 rails against the threatened loss of pension and retiree health benefits.
House Majority Leader Mike Caputo urged support for Monday’s resolution. A senior UMWA officer, the Marion County Democrat described how he and other union members were arrested at a January civil disobedience action in St. Louis. This is much like environmentalists from groups like RAMPS (Radical Action for Mountain Peoples Survival) who were arrested doing non-violent civil disobedience at the Peabody office in St. Louis weeks before while protesting the devastating effects of the extraction economy on health, land and culture.
OVEC has supported the Fairness at Patriot campaign since the beginning (https://ohvec.org/blog/2012/
Patriot has shown as much distain for its workers as it has for coalfield residents in West Virginia, and our environment, health and heritage. We salute these Patriots workers, retirees and their families for standing up and saying “Enough!” to exploitive companies like this. We hope to express solidarity with their struggle as we struggle ourselves. As the old labor adage goes, an injury to one is and injury to all. We wish them luck on their march on Patriot’s WV headquarters in Charleston this coming Monday. We hope these workers receive justice, just as we help others (no apostrophe) living in the coalfields seek justice from the likes of Patriot. As we know from our lawsuit against them for their selenium pollution violations, you must take the fight to them to get results.