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8/27/2004

Call to Action...IMPORTANT

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


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."
HOW YOU CAN HELP
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:

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