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9/28/2004

Today, 250 miners lose their jobs & 3,000 employees lose their health care

Its about a half an hour since the official closing of the Zeigler No. 11 mine in COULTERVILLE, Ill.Officials told union leaders Monday the mine was closing and the health benefits of its 250 workers were ceasing.

The mine was one of several that Ashland, Ky.-based Horizon Natural Resources sold to New York financier Wilbur Ross Jr. this month in Illinois, Kentucky and Indiana.

A federal bankruptcy judge ruled in August that Ross could buy them without upholding contracts in place with the coal union, a ruling that outraged the UMWA.

Monday was a dark day in the history of many coal miners lives, not only did the Coulterville mine shut down, but also Horizon's 3,000 employees/retirees from other facilities affected by the bankruptcy ruling had their medical benefits cut off.

There's no doubt Ross will fire this mine back up again soon, but it will be with non-union labor. Workers hired will be paid far less than industry standard and probably will receive little or no medical coverage.

What happened today has nothing to do with cost-effective steps being taken for financial viability, instead it was a power move to bust a union.

People like Ross are afraid of workers having rights and empowerment, it undermines their megalomaniac ideology. Sickening...truly sickening.

United Mine Workers' of America local 2161 and the 3,000 Horizon workers who lost their health care today....our prayers and thoughts are with you.

Solidarity....we shall overcome....we shall overcome.

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