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11/09/2006

UMWA support “critical” to worker-friendly candidate victories across America, results show

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

NOVEMBER 9, 2006

CONTACT: Phil Smith 703-208-7241



The support and votes of members of the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) and their families proved to be critical in securing victories for worker-friendly candidates in states and localities across America, UMWA International President Cecil E. Roberts said today.

“In Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Virginia, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Kentucky, New York, Colorado and the Navajo Nation, UMWA members and their families made the difference,” Roberts said. “They knocked on doors, made phone calls, put up signs and most importantly turned out to vote for candidates who are on our side.”

“Our UMWA phone bank made over 20,000 calls to working families in southwest Virginia, leading to a near-record coalfield turnout for Jim Webb,” Roberts said. Webb carried Buchanan, Dickenson and Russell counties and the city of Norton in Virginia’s coal-mining region by a cumulative 1,633 votes. “Those votes were critical to his margin of victory in the Virginia U.S. Senate race,” Roberts said.

Bob Casey, Jr.’s big win in Pennsylvania and Sherrod Brown’s victory in Ohio also benefitted from UMWA families’ support and votes. Casey’s margin of victory in the coal counties of Cambria, Green and Fayette outpaced his overall victory margin, while Brown’s margin of victory in the Ohio coal counties of Belmont, Jefferson and Monroe was larger than his statewide
margin.

Roberts noted that the UMWA put over 90 staff and members on the ground throughout the nation as part of the AFL-CIO’s Labor 2006 effort the last weeks before the election to help with voter turnout, including staffing phone banks, leafleting, and going door-to-door talking to voters.

“A quick look at the map of counties that switched from Republican to Democratic support in the U.S. House races shows that areas with high concentration of UMWA members and retirees played a crucial role in determining the outcome of several Congressional races across the nation,” Roberts said, pointing to counties in southern Indiana, southwestern and central Pennsylvania and upstate New York

Two victories by Democrats Brad Ellsworth and Baron Hill in southern Indiana were fueled by UMWA efforts, Roberts said, as was the election of Mike Arcuri in upstate New York. “These areas have high concentrations of UMWA members and retirees who worked hard in their campaigns and then turned out in droves to vote for these UMWA-endorsed candidates.”

“I’m also especially proud of UMWA families’ support of Sen. Robert C. Byrd (D-W.Va.),” Roberts said. “His margins of victory in the coal counties throughout the state–south and north–were of landslide proportions. UMWA members and their families know Sen. Byrd is their strongest advocate in the U.S. Senate, and they demonstrated their love and support for him loud and clear.”

Byrd captured 84% of the vote in Mingo County, 83% in McDowell County, 81% in Logan County, 80% in Boone County, 74% in Fayette County and 72% in Marion County–all areas with many thousands of UMWA members and retirees.

Roberts also said that the defeat of Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship’s campaign in West Virginia to grab control of the West Virginia House of Delegates was due in large measure to the UMWA’s active campaign against Blankenship.

“Our members were out in force throughout West Virginia in the weeks leading up to Election Day, working to set the record straight about the half-truths and outright lies that Blankenship was running in ads,” Roberts said. “West Virginia voters didn’t buy into Blankenship’s campaign of fear, and that’s largely due to coal miners and their families telling the truth about him
and his campaign.”

The re-election of Dr. Joe Shirley as the President of the Navajo Nation was cited by Roberts as another instance of UMWA support helping to carry the day. Shirley won by just over 4,000 votes, while the UMWA represents nearly 4,000 Navajo workers. “We’re looking forward to continuing to work with President Shirley in his efforts to bring a greater measure of prosperity to his people,” Roberts said.

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