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Police arrest protesting coal miners

Hundreds of Ky. coal miners stage protest

LEXINGTON, Ky. -- Hundreds of coal miners marched through downtown Tuesday to protest a federal bankruptcy ruling that will cause thousands of retired coal workers to lose their medical coverage. Seventeen people were arrested.

August 31st, 2004 Horizon Rally

Click here to read the story (Associated Press)

To see video of the protest and arrest (WKYT TV)
The 'Lexington 17' pose for a picture shortly after being released from jail.
The 'Lexington 17' pose for a picture shortly after being released from jail.

Today we took to the streets for the third time to show opposition to this injustice which has happened to the employees and retirees of Horizon Natural Resources.

The 17 that were arrested are true martyrs to the cause. A clear message has been sent to not only Horizon, those who plan to purchase the bankrupt assets, our elected officials and the people...we aren't going to take it anymore. We must reform corporate bankruptcy laws and we are not going to stop until it happens.

I would like to thank all those who supported today's rally, including many elected officials , who either attended or sent letters of support. We thank you all, but our fight has only just begun and we need you to continue showing support of bankruptcy law reformation and that the U.S. Senate provide funding for those workers who have been orphaned because of corporations filing bankruptcy and not honoring contracts, pensions and medical benefit plans.

Please refer to the preceeding blog entry of how you can help and show your support.

Today it was the employees of Horizon, you could be next. Take action.


Call to Action...IMPORTANT

For Immediate ReleaseAugust 26, 2004
Contact: Doug Gibson(703) 208-7241
Photos courtesy of

United Mine Workers Of America To Rally Again Outside Lexington, Ky., Federal Bankruptcy Court
Sale Of Horizon Natural Resources' Assets To Be Confirmed By Judge William Howard At August 31 Hearing
July 20, 2004 Horizon Rally

UMWA International President Cecil Roberts Vows To Turn Up Political Heat.

When federal bankruptcy Judge William Howard officially confirms the sale of Horizon Natural Resources assets to financier Wilbur Ross and other successful bidders in his Lexington, Ky., courtroom at 10:00 a.m. on Aug. 31, United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) members will once again flood the streets outside the Community Trust Building to protest what is happening to them as a result of Horizon's bankruptcy. This will be the UMWA's third protest outside Judge Howard's courtroom.

On Aug. 6, Howard issued a ruling that granted Horizon's request to void its contracts with the UMWA and cancel health care benefits for thousands of active and retired miners. Prior to issuing this decision, UMWA International President Cecil Roberts and several other union advocates testified in court about the extreme economic hardship an adverse ruling would create for some 800 active Horizon miners and some 2,300 Horizon retirees. Not only would these retirees-many suffering from chronic illnesses like black lung-be forced to find new health care coverage, but active miners would lose their job rights. This means that future employment opportunities at their mine-in the event of it being sold-would no longer be guaranteed.
Unfortunately, the UMWA's plea for justice fell on deaf ears, and Howard ruled in favor of Horizon.

Every street corner near the courthouse was lined with protesters like these.

"The UMWA is not going to allow what happened to these Horizon miners to become yesterday's news," vowed Roberts. "We are appealing the judge's decision, and we will continue to protest it at every opportunity, such as next week's confirmation hearing. What Judge Howard did is wrong, and the UMWA will continue fighting to make this sad situation right. Our Horizon members are angry and frustrated, but they are also dedicated to fighting with us to the end. I applaud them for their strength and commitment."
The entrance to the federal bankruptcy court is wall-to-wall protesters.

Following Howard's ruling, Roberts said the UMWA was highly encouraged by the immediate pledges of help from several of the union's friends in Congress, particularly Sens. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) and Robert C. Byrd (D-W.Va.) and Reps. Nick Rahall (D-W.Va.), Ted Strickland (D-Ohio) and Jerry Costello (D-Ill.).
"These are federal bankruptcy laws, and it will take an act of Congress to reform them," explained Roberts. "Our supporters in Congress understand that this action needs to happen, and they have pledged to work with us to try and reform America's business-friendly bankruptcy laws-sooner, not later."

Roberts added that the UMWA will be working with the labor movement to make the issue of bankruptcy law reform a front-burner issue this election season.

The UMWA will be asking candidates directly about how they would vote on the issue of bankruptcy law reform," said Roberts. "If they aren't with us then we can only assume they are against us-and we will make sure voters throughout the coalfields know that. We must strike while the iron is hot. America's bankruptcy laws were written by banks and pro-business members of Congress, who today, unfortunately, outnumber pro-worker members of Congress. The UMWA vows to work with all of labor to tip that balance in our favor come November 2."
If you want to help, you can do so in the following ways.
Show your support if you are in the Lexington, KY area on August, 31 by rallying with the miners and their families. Click here for Map & Directions
If you cannot attend or live outside the area, you can still show your support by letting the following people know:
Local Media:
Tell the unions that you support that they are standing up for their workers and retirees:
Send a Thank You to the following elected officials for supporting the UMWA:
Tell the Kerry-Edwards campaign they need to weigh in on this issue and corporate bankruptcy laws:

Bush ads spreading propoganda to coal miners

United Mine Workers Of America International President Blasts Anti-Kerry Ad Running In West Virginia Says "Americans For Job Security" Ad Is Wrong To Suggest Kerry Will Take Coal Miners' Jobs

United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) International President Cecil Roberts today blasted a new ad running in West Virginia by a group calling itself "Americans for Job Security." The ad alleges that John Kerry will "take our mining jobs away," and Roberts says that statement is flat-out wrong.

"The politics of fear and deception is rearing its ugly head throughout West Virginia, and this Americans for Job Security ad is a prime example," said Roberts. "John Kerry is not going to take away coal mining jobs. If he were, do people honestly think the UMWA would have given its endorsement to him?"

Roberts said Kerry's recently announced $10 billion clean coal technology program will create coal mining jobs in West Virginia and throughout Appalachia because it means coal will be burned more cleanly, hence making it a more acceptable primary fuel source for the nation.

"By investing $10 billion over the next decade in advanced clean coal technology, John Kerry will help ensure that coal remains a vital part of our energy future," explained Roberts. "These investments will provide the affordable energy we need, create new jobs in the coalfields and supplement efforts to improve America's environment. Coal miners know that installation of advanced clean coal technology means new construction, operation and maintenance jobs at power plants and a more secure future for their own jobs." He continued, "John Kerry understands that technology is the key to coal's future. He knows we can't stick our heads in the sand and hope that society's demand for cleaner energy will go away. It won't. Instead, those who advocate the use of coal must recognize that to seriously meet our energy and environmental challenges, we must embrace the call for cleaner energy from coal. If the message of the coal industry is that the only way to utilize coal is to foul our air and water resources, the opponents of coal will ultimately win. We can continue to improve the environment and still have a vibrant coal industry; but to accomplish this we must invest in advanced coal technology."

Roberts categorized claims that the Bush Administration has been good for the creation of coal mining jobs in West Virginia as "unfounded."

"More than 2,000 coal mining jobs have been lost in West Virginia since George Bush took office in 2001," said Roberts. "In addition, Bush is proposing new rules governing mercury emissions that could lead to large scale fuel-switching from Appalachia to the Powder River Basin, which includes Wyoming-Dick Cheney's home state. This fuel-switching will lead to coal miners losing their jobs, just like in 1990 when the Acid Rain rules were enacted."

Roberts said the coal industry itself has denounced Bush's proposed mercury regulations.

In comments to the Environmental Protection Agency on Bush's mercury rules, Massey Energy wrote, 'The proposed rules threaten the future of the Appalachian coal industry and those who depend on it,'" explained Roberts, "and the Bituminous Coal Coalition wrote, 'EPA's proposals...will result in adverse economic impacts, including loss of employment to an important class of workers in key bituminous coal-producing states.'"
oberts added that Bush's pledge in 2000 to commit $2 billion to fund clean coal technology over a ten-year period has, to date, been woefully underfunded.

"Going back to my point about coal's future survival-and the creation of more coal mining jobs-being contingent on a serious commitment to find ways to burn it more cleanly, it is clear that President Bush has no intention of funding the research needed-at the levels he pledged-to accomplish that goal," said Roberts.

"We need a president who understands what it takes to keep coal a vital part of our energy mix in the 21st century. You can't preserve coal miners' jobs by ignoring the environment. Our job security lies in addressing these problems by developing and deploying advanced technologies. That's the key to coal's future and John Kerry understands that. Americans for Job Security will surely continue to make these false claims, but the truth speaks for itself. The UMWA is working hard to make sure coal miners across West Virginia understand reality, not fiction."


Steve Earle - The Revolution Starts Now



In a time when music seems to be less about talent and more about image, Earle stands at the forefront of an underground movement that believes music should be more about art than profit.Earle's new album is a perfect example of how it is more important to create art that captures what is going on in the world today than to worry about being radio friendly.

The Revolution Starts...Now is Steve Earle's best work he has ever produced. Revolution not only captures the turbulent climate in which we live in today, but also shows how far Earle has progressed as a songwriter and as a musician. Revolution is without a doubt Earle's own Sgt. Pepper's, showing a climatic showcase of all that he has learned over 25 years in the music business. As bold as a statement as this may seem, even heroes of Earles like Bob Dylan never produced an album that showcases their talents in this way.

From the Sex Pistols-like "F the CC" to the call-to-awareness battle cry of the title track, this album is flawless. Reminiscent of Eddie Vedder's "I'm Open", Earle's spoken-word "Warrior" brilliantly shows Earle's extraordinary talent as not only a songwriter, but also as master poet, making this track on an equal plateau with Dylan's "My Back Pages".

Although I will always say my favorite album of Earle's is I Feel Alright, The Revolution Starts...Now is in a category by itself. In the future Revolution will be looked back on by music critics as being the last great political album and will be looked at as a measuring stick by which all other bands will have to be judged.

The Revolution Starts Now

Rich's Man War

Take Action!Act to protect the freedom to choose a union.

Take Action!Act to protect the freedom to choose a union.
New bipartisan legislation (H.R. 3619 and S. 1925) introduced in Congress will help fix the broken process through which workers form unions. Please take a moment right now to send a fax to your senators and representative. Urge them to sign on as a sponsor of this important pro-worker legislation.

Cut and paste this letter and send it to your elected officials and tell them that you want to preserve your right to form a Union.

Subject: Act to protect the freedom to choose a union.

I am asking you to get involved in the fight to protect the human right of every worker to freely form or join a union without harassment or intimidation from their employer. Please sign on as a co-sponsor of the bipartisan Employee Free Choice Act recently introduced in Congress (H.R. 3619 and S. 1925) by Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.), Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.), and Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.).

As a co-sponsor of this legislation, you can help elevate the visibility of this real human rights issue. Employers routinely harass, coerce, intimidate--and even fire--workers to keep them from exercising their freedom to form a union. According to Cornell University research conducted by Kate Bronfenbrenner, one-quarter of private sector employers illegally fire at least one worker during a union organizing campaign.
This is unacceptable. I strongly urge you to join the campaign to end this human rights crisis. The current system for protecting these workers' rights is broken. This law, when enacted, would fix the broken processes through which workers form unions--making union protections and benefits more widely available to more working families.

This is one of the issues I will use to weigh your commitment to working families. I look forward to hearing that you have signed on as a co-sponsor of this important legislation.

[Your name]
[Your address]

To find out who your elected official are go to http://www.house.gov/ or http://capwiz.com/wa/dbq/officials/


Working people need a break also.

Brilliant Commentary by the UMWA's President
Commentary from Charleston Daily Mail
Cecil E. Roberts International President, United Mine Workers of America

Working people need a break also.

The United Mine Workers of America takes great offense at the simplicity of the view articulated in an Aug. 23 Daily Mail editorial entitled, "Surviving Beats Folding: Horizon miners may yet come out of this all right."
The author of the piece believes that Horizon Natural Resources coal miners, including thousands of UMWA miners and their dependents, should be thankful that our nation's bankruptcy laws have provided them an opportunity to possibly continue working. I say "possibly" because the new owners have not guaranteed anything to these workers.

In exchange for the chance of future employment, the writer would have Horizon miners see the glass as half full and not half empty, or find the silver lining in this tragic storm cloud. After all, the writer says, the miners have "survived to fight another day."

What complete hogwash.

This is the type of thinking that corporate America wants business-leaning media nationwide to continue pounding into the heads of working people. To them, the message is simple:
C'mon, working people. Don't dwell on the negative. Just be happy your workplace might survive.
So what if you were promised lifetime health care in contract after contract. So what if -- again, in contract after contract -- you surrendered higher pay and accepted lesser benefits for the promise of lifetime health care and were promised the right to a union job if the company was ever sold.
So what if many of you are now getting up in age and suffering from chronic, high-cost medical problems like black lung disease.

And so what if the federal government itself promised you lifetime health care benefits.
Forget about all that and just be happy you might still have a job to go to. Granted, it may not be a job that rewards you with the same level of compensation or protection you once had, but it's a job and isn't that good enough?

Don't question it. Just suck it up and toe the line. Be good little workers.

Not surprisingly, America's extreme right wing employs a similar technique when it labels those who do not support the way President Bush has handled the war in Iraq as "unpatriotic" or "anti-American." Do not question our president. Just blindly accept that what he is doing is best for you and all Americans.
A similar message is being articulated by this editorialist. Do not question our nation's bankruptcy laws. Accept that when the banking industry was helping pro-business members of Congress write the laws, they were looking out for working people, too.
Give us a break.

Corporate America -- and I have to think the writer of this editorial -- would love to see the Horizon miners and all other workers simply roll over and accept the cards they have been dealt.

If that were to happen here and elsewhere, maybe American workers would soon begin to accept the same fate as workers in many Third World nations, where worker complaints about low pay, no benefits and unsafe working conditions are often met with a "just be thankful you have a job" response -- or in extreme cases, imprisonment or death.

I am here to tell you that the UMWA and the American labor movement have fought too long and too hard to allow this to happen in the United States. That is why the UMWA is committed to leading the fight to reform our nation's bankruptcy laws -- and our labor laws.

We live in a democracy, and that is what makes America great. We have the right to voice our dissatisfaction and fight to remedy injustice.

That is exactly what the UMWA will continue to do because, in our opinion, it is not that the Horizon miners have survived to fight another day, but rather that they have instead been sentenced to a slow economic death.

Its not going to be a happy Labor Day

It’s an early Labor Day SURPRISE! Congratulations, if you make between $23,660 and $100,000, you have just very likely lost your right to overtime pay, courtesy of the Bush administration.

If this comes as news to you, thank your friendly media, who are much too busy reporting lies abut John Kerry’s heroism in Vietnam to bother with this story affecting your life. But next time you hear someone say, “Oh, I just don’t care much about politics,” you might want to recall this particular connection — especially if it means you have to go out and get another job.

This stunner is brought to you by President Bush and his big-business campaign donors. The Senate has voted twice to stop the change, so there’s no point in raising hell with them. The House of Representatives, the “people’s house,” dodged the question. So Bush’s Department of Labor just up and issued hundreds of pages of new rules on who gets overtime pay.

The administration contends there is some good news buried in the big pile of bad — that 1.3 million of the working poor, making between $8,000 and $23,000, will be eligible for overtime for the first time. That would be good news except a study by the Economic Policy Institute says only one in seven of those workers actually works overtime.

Meanwhile, the AFL-CIO estimates 6 million people will lose overtime. It’s the people in the middle who are getting screwed.

It is true that the numbers on who benefits and who loses are not yet exact. There are over 500 pages of new regulations involved here, and a good bit of it will have to be thrashed out in court. Nevertheless, there is no question about the overall effect of the new regs: The AFL-CIO is up in arms, and the Chamber of Commerce is just ecstatic about this.

I can only assume the lack of news coverage on this issue stems from the fact that most journalists are unaware that they are among those who are about to lose overtime rights. Chefs, cooks, sous chefs, computer workers, nursery school teachers, many nurses, funeral directors and embalmers, “team leaders,” some cops — to find out if you are among the lucky 6 million, you can go to the AFL’s website workingamerica.org. You can email questions to a wage-and-hour specialist under its “Ask a Lawyer” feature.

Of course, employers are standing ready to promote everybody and his dog to “management” so they won’t be eligible for overtime under the new rules. All they have to do is rename the busboy “assistant night manager.”

Another new trick redefines “salary.” Under the old rules, a salaried worker was not entitled to overtime — but now “salary” can be defined as an hourly wage. Under the new regs, if you spend even a fraction of your time on supervisory or “leadership” tasks, you’re out of luck on overtime. And of course penalties for employers who illegally dock the pay of salaried workers have been reduced.

Sen. Tom Harkin of Iowa has put up a rearguard political action against this coup and continues to fight. The new rules went into effect Aug. 23, but they can still be blocked or repealed by Congress. In the House, Republican leaders have refused to let the issue come up for debate.

As usual, there is much spin and counter-spin about this, but it seems especially pointless to blow smoke — the facts are actually quite clear. But then, they’re quite clear on John Kerry’s war record, too, but that doesn’t seem to have stopped that idiotic “debate.”

In this case, however, the reality check is in the numbers on your paycheck. Good luck now and in the future on this one. Oh and do please relish the Bush line that this is a gift to workers because comp time will give you more time with family.


Tell President Bush not to take away overtime pay.

Take Action!Tell President Bush not to take away overtime pay.

Millions of workers lost their overtime pay eligibility Aug. 23 when new Bush administration changes to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) took effect. Now, millions more who may remain eligible for overtime pay face another White House attack on their paychecks. President Bush has called for new rules to allow employers to replace paid overtime with unpaid compensatory time off. Under Bush’s plan, employers could substitute time off at some undetermined future date for overtime pay. Of course, your boss still gets to decide if you ever get to take time off. These changes are a huge pay cut for America's working families.
He needs to feel the heat! Please act today by sending a letter to President Bush. We'll deliver your letter via fax with a copy to your U.S. senators. Please add your own words to the letter below to personalize it with your own thoughts and feelings.

Tell me more

Take action today and copy & paste this message and send it to your elected officials and President Bush:

I was angered to hear about your dual proposals to take away overtime pay from potentially millions of America's workers. Working families count on overtime pay for everyday needs like housing, food, transportation, health care and more. Without overtime pay these families will suffer a huge pay cut.

I am upset that you would side with corporate campaign contributors over working families--especially after so many people sent letters, e-mails, faxes or signed petitions opposing this pay cut and Congress voted to protect overtime pay.

I will use this issue and your actions to judge your commitment to working families. I urgently await your reply.

[Your name]
[Your address]

* After copying the message go to http://www.house.gov/ or http://capwiz.com/wa/dbq/officials/ and find out who your elected officials are and show your opposition to the Overtime Takeaway.


W.W.J.D? He wouldn't agree with what's going on.

Ever been paranoid about something and then no matter how crazy or off the wall your speculations were in the end you were proven right? Welcome to my world.

The extreme religious right has brainwashed a large majority of American voters.

Its not that this a new issue, its always been around throughout history. In every religion has done this and every great leader has twisted faith in order to spread their delusional propaganda, from the first tribal leader to U.S. Presidents they've all done it. What frightens me though is how we are supposed to be an intelligent, reasoning, humane and civil society but we still allow our leaders and special interest groups to manipulate us.

I'm not going to agree with most of the leftist views that 9/11 caused a sweeping wave of religious values to cover the land, instead it was an opportunity for the wolves in sheep's clothing to come in and take advantage of a situation.

On Sept. 15, 2001 right-wing-religious-nut Pat Robertson announced on his CBN program (Christian News intertwined with Robertson's political agendas...don't think Jesus would approve of that folks) that the attacks on New York City and the Pentagon were because of the homosexuals in the U.S. Robertson later retracted his statement, but his remarks were out of line considering the great tragedy that had occurred, especially to the victims families. Point being, the first wolf struck and drew first blood and other wolves soon followed.

In the months and weeks following 9/11 our leaders began using "God" in every other line of their speeches. Not to say some were showing reverence to the Creator, but some knew it was playing well in the polls and they cranked it up with each week. Not since Hitler's propaganda about the Jews had masses heard leaders use the line "I am guided by God and will carry out what is just". The propaganda was working, suddenly the upcoming Presidential election became less about two candidates but more about good vs. evil.

Through sublime rhetoric, somehow Republicans became Christians and Democrats were the minions of Satan. Democrats became baby killers (pro-choice), supported homosexuals (civil rights), wanted to steal your hard earned money (taxes) and the most insulting slap in the face of Jesus's teachings, Democrats were about peace and there would be no retribution for Al Queda attacks on 9/11.

Now let's look at this from the perspective of Christianity what the people were thinking. I agree that its probably pretty safe to bet our Lord does not approve of abortion and homosexuality, but I don't think he approves of leaders lying to their people about weapons of mass destruction, the rich not sharing their wealth with the poor, he said people were to pay taxes (Jesus did) and most of all, look in the New Testament, Jesus spoke in all three Gospels about many would come in his name but would be sheep in wolves clothing. A just man is judged upon his works, not his words is the message here.

Mixed with all this religious talk was fear tactics by the Bush Administration. Ever week we watched the terror chart rise and fall with terror alerts. All of this lead many to believe Bin Ladin was lurking in their backyards and the local Dairy Queen was a potential target. You know who else did this? His name was Hitler, ever wonder how he got millions of Germans to go along with him, he used the same propaganda of telling his people the Jews and Allied Powers were out to annihilate them and they were all evil and the German people were Godly.

How could people base their good and evil analysis off the doctrine of the Bible and deem Democrats evil, but not apply those same values to the Republicans also? My answer is pretty simple, they don't know how to think for themselves anymore.

Maybe its not their fault entirely, because they are bombarded with propaganda on Fox News on television, Rush Limbaugh on the radio, colleagues in the workplace who are afraid they'll lose their tax cut privies and even by their ministers in the churches that Bush is godly and Kerry is Satan's Spawn.

I'm going to go on record as saying I don't think what's going on has anything to do with Jesus, its more about some Americans finding an excuse to hate and show their true colors of greed, selfishness and evil. If you are a person of faith, its very dangerous business to support evil and its even worse to say God put his stamp of approval on it.

Now I want to clarify something, in no way am I trying to spin that Democrats are good and Republicans are bad. I'm just saying be careful who and what you are accusing and condemning without properly including all that are doing evil deeds.

Some American Republicans are not even conservatives, instead those are more of a neo-Nazi-like hate group. Their hate speech is more powerful and far reaching than any Republican TV advertisement or speech Bush could ever give.

These people are not going to be swayed, even if Bush suddenly had a true change of heart and attempted to calm them down. They are the voters who will not hear the truth or see the facts...that is a very scary thing.

Six-thousand years of life on this planet. 228 as a nation of democracy. And we still haven't got it right. Its time to stop the terrorism on our soil by caused by the extreme religious right and then we could tackle the problem of defeating all of those who want our demise throughout the world. Guess what folks, the terrorists are laughing cause they knew we are self-destructing ourselves with our bickering, hate towards one another and lies.

And to the extreme religious right. Ask yourself what would Jesus do and I'll guarantee he wouldn't be hating his fellow man and spreading lies using your name.

Overtime Takeaway - Journalists Failed

The Bush Overtime Takeaway is a disgusting abuse of power, but I'm not going to write about all of that. Instead I want to talk about how the journalists failed in covering this issue and how it is something that directly affects them.

One of the jobs that is clearly defined for reclassification is that of journalists. No longer will non-editorial reporters be classified as hourly employees, instead they will be listed as salary employees.

Throughout the past 30 years reporters filed lawsuits in order not to be overworked and abused by publishers and media corporations. Some were working 80 hour work weeks and not receiving any form of overtime pay. A sweeping change happened from these lawsuits and almost every state adopted journalist protection in the labor laws.

Did they forget their history or was it control by huge media owners? No matter what happened, the media went to sleep on this issue.

For one year the internet, labor unions and workers have been buzzing about this issue. Little or no coverage came from reporters about this issue that was to impact every worker in the United States. One would have thought such a monumental topic would have became immediately a headline in every major newspaper and lead story on the nightly news, but it did not. Reporters especially should have rallied to covering this issue since it was their asses on the line too.

Today, the first day of the OT changes, everywhere I turned people, newspapers and TV news was covering the story. A little too late folks, you should have been giving Americans a chance to weigh on the issue a year ago and given enough time for the people to take action before it started.

I have my own opinions of what has happened to reporters, especially in small market newspapers. Many are unskilled in covering legislative issues, while others feel their readers would not be interested in reading about such matters. This type of thinking is killing the press. What happened to the press being the voice of the people? I agree many readers do not want to hear about anything bad, but this is NEWS. Preemptive news reporting is part of the game and more reporters should learn this. Reporting government affairs is crucial and important for informing readers, its not something reporters and news agencies should chose not to do because they don't know how....learn how!!!!!

I realize much the blame could be right-wing gatekeeping of publishers, editors and media owners, but reporters should have tried other ways to work these stories in. From personal experience, news briefs often go undetected by publishers and having readers write letters to the editor about the topic have helped get stories in to conservative publications. What I am trying to say is there were ways around this.

Journalists, you have failed America. Stand up and take part of the blame. Its not going to fix anything, but at least take accountability for your actions.


Declare Yourself - Register to Vote

This election is the most important election of our time.
It is necessary to get out and vote this NOV.
Not only are we deciding who the President of the United States will be, but we are also voting on our future.
Choose or lose folks because this time we stand to lose everything if we don't.
Register to vote, its easy, its fun and its more patriotic than anything else you could ever do for your country.
End opression, VOTE.

Safe working environments...not anymore

Bush guts OSHA rules
(information obtained through various labor, news and workforce websites)
Great editorial cartoon on the subject, click here

Decades of struggles by workers and their unions have made workplaces safer. But the fight to protect workers is getting more difficult. The Bush administration has joined with business groups to roll back and block key worker protections-taking America in the wrong direction.
In fact, the Bush administration has the worst record on safety rules in the entire history of Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the federal workplace safety agency.
Here are the facts about Bush's record on workplace safety.

  • Bush killed workplace ergonomic protections. On March 20, 2001, President Bush signed legislation repealing the ergonomics standards designed to protect workers from repetitive motion and back injuries.

  • He rolled back or blocked dozens of workplace safety and health rules. In December 2001, the Bush administration announced the withdrawal of 29 rules that would have protected workers from serious hazards at work.

  • Bush administration favors employers over workers. The administration's fiscal year 2005 OSHA budget proposed cutting safety training programs for workers by 65 percent, while increasing funding for employer programs.


Safety: Evolve Not De-Evolve

As anyone can see these changes favor large corporations and are essentially de-evolving the workplace back to subpar safety standards of 100 years ago.

At the turn of the century workers had no rights and safety was not a concern of business owners. Workers were expendable and if one person died from a work-related accident all they would have to do is clean up the mess and go on with biz as usually.

Labor Unions formed through the help of immigrant workers whom were being mistreated just like American-born laborers were and over time this organizational effort helped workers have the ability to fight back against their employers. Not only was a higher wage demanded, but in almost every single grievance SAFETY was the top priority. Even the federal government agreed that a safe work environment was ESSENTIAL for workers and the economy.

What happened?

Some blame it on greedy lawyers who jumped on workers compensation cases like piranhas. Right-wingers say workers started demanding more rights than were necessary. Some so-called financial experts even side with the companies and believe that safety regulations prohibited businesses to operate to their full potential.

The fact of the matter is a safe working environment is not an option. Workplaces should be fully regulated by the federal government and bodies like OSHA. These offices are necessary to regulate big business and to be there to ensure workers will be safe....cause the companies sure ain't going to do it.

Human life is not something that can be measured in profits and losses. It should be the sworn duty of CEO's to force their companies to have the highest safety standards imaginable. What happened to the idea of a happy and safe worker means more production and higher profit?
What is happening here is the beginning of the oppression of the American laborer. Ask your grandparents what it was like to work in factories and other jobs at the turn of the century. Man is supposed to evolve not de-evolve.

Kentucky Miners Lose Health Benefits

SOUTHERN ILLINOIS -- Months of speculation and worry turned into reality for thousands of active and retired Southern Illinois coal miners Monday when a federal bankruptcy judge granted a request by Horizon Natural Resources to void its contracts with the union, a move that will cancel health care benefits. The decision could affect as many as 3,000 miners in Southern Illinois. Lawyers for Horizon had appeared before Judge William Howard two weeks ago and asked -- as part of its bankruptcy reorganization plan -- that the company not be held responsible for health care benefits for the union miners and retirees who previously worked for Zeigler Coal and Old Ben Coal. Union officials claim the case involving Horizon is the latest in a growing number of bankruptcies involving energy, airline and steel firms where companies have used bankruptcy laws to eliminate or reduce pension and retirement benefits that had been gained through labor negotiations. United Mine Workers of America International President Cecil Roberts wasted little time in blasting the decision. "What a complete and utter travesty of justice. If this decision doesn't cause America's working families to start looking around at who is running this country and which direction we are headed then I fear for our nation," Roberts said. "These workers did absolutely nothing wrong. They worked hard, did what was expected and accepted lower wages for the promise of health care. But look where that got them. They've been left high and dry." Calls to Bill Bissett, a spokesperson with Charles Ryan and Associates, a public relations firm from Charleston, W.Va., that represents HNR were not returned. Horizon, which is based in Ashland, Ky., operates 42 mines, including 27 surface and 15 underground in Kentucky, West Virginia, Illinois, Indiana and Colorado. It has been embroiled in bankruptcy proceedings that include the Zeigler 11 Mine near Coulterville for more than two years.
Personal Thoughts On The Issue

In the 1930's they were called gun-thugs. In the 40s and 50s they were called strike busters. Now the newest way of busting unions is called federal bankruptcy judges.

Who's to blame for this?

Without pointing fingers, I'll leave it up to you to decide that one. BUT, I do want to bring up a certain fact that cannot be disputed since it is in U.S. Congressional Record.

During 2002, new bankruptcy laws & reform bills passed the House again and were narrowly blocked in the Senate despite a Republican majority. Republican Senators who voted against reform and new bankruptcy laws drew sharp criticism from George W. Bush. A special interest group, the Financial Services Round Table (a special interest group representing 100 of the largest banks, insurance and investment companies in America), is largely responsible for drafting new bankruptcy laws and is one of Bush's largest campaign contributors.

The signing of the new bankruptcy laws, the very ones that protected Horizon Natural Resources, was the first agenda, act and bill signed by Bush. Think about it, this was the first act as a President and it was to sign in these new laws. He could have cast a veto and sent it back to Congress, but he did not.

Now let's take in to consideration that United States Bankruptcy judges are appointed to 14 year term offices, not elected by the people. Judge Howard was and I quote from the Kentucky Bankruptcy Courts website:

Judge William S. Howard was appointed to the bench in March, 1990. Prior to his appointment, he practiced law for 20 years in Lexington, Kentucky. Judge Howard received his BS degree in Chemical Engineering in 1966 and his JD in 1969, both from the University of Kentucky.

March 1990...who was in office then? President George H. Bush, the father of current president George W. Bush. Also take in to consideration his term will be up in March of 2005, where he will have to be recommended for reappointment by the brass in D.C. Maybe, just maybe busting a union would guarantee reappointment by a Republican-lead administration

Points to ponder.