USW President Leo Gerard wrote on July 19 ("Our Pro-Coal President") that coal miners "deserve a president who fights for them." He is right. However, it's not clear that Barack Obama is that president. It's not clear that Mitt Romney is either, and that's the problem coal miners have with this election.
Mr. Gerard would have people believe that the Obama administration has been nothing but good for coal miners. While it is true that the administration has promoted an improvement in safety in the coal mines, it is at the same time establishing a regulatory agenda that will lead to the premature end of coal as an energy fuel in America. Mines get a lot safer when they are closed.
Coal miners aren't stupid, and we don't need to be condescended to by people like Mr. Gerard. We can see what's happening for ourselves. Yes, employment was up for the first years of the Obama administration, but now that thousands of miners are getting laid off throughout the nation, Mr. Gerard skips over that.
Mitt Romney is no friend of working people, and that includes coal miners. He may care more about coal companies than Barack Obama does, but he could not care less about those of us who actually mine the coal. So coal miners are faced with a cruel choice in this election.
Lastly, I have to wonder why the head of a union that does not represent coal miners in this country would write such an article. He knows that the United Mine Workers of America has not endorsed either candidate for president, because neither has demonstrated he deserves our endorsement. I marched in Waynesburg with Mr. Gerard and 5,000 others in April 2011 as we sent a message of union solidarity and strength. As far as I'm concerned, he has now turned his back on that solidarity.
Mr. Gerard does not speak for coal miners in the United States, and he especially does not speak for members of the UMWA. Cecil Roberts is our president. I and my brothers and sisters will follow his lead.
United Mine Workers of America
Local Union 2300