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Officials honor coal miners on ‘National Miner’s Day ‘

FROM STAFF REPORTS

December 11, 2013

U.S. Rep. Nick J. Rahall released the following statement in recognition of National Miner’s Day, which is observed annually on December 6th.


This weekend, families across the country will turn on Christmas lights, turn up the heat to keep out the cold, and turn on the TV to watch football with friends. Meanwhile, deep underground, away from the public view, and too often away from the public consciousness, America’s miners will be hard at work providing the energy that fuels these moments and comforts. It is the work that miners have been doing for more than two centuries in our great country and their toil and sacrifice has enabled countless advances for our Nation and driven our economic vitality.


The role of the miner is just as important to our daily lives today as it was 100 years ago. Setting aside one day a year to acknowledge those who provide the energy we use each day of the year is a simple yet important way a grateful Nation can honor these men and women who have done so much for us and will continue to do even more throughout our future.


National Miner’s Day falls in this month in recognition of “bloody December” in 1907 when more than 600 Appalachian miners lost their lives in less than three weeks. While laws, safety inspections, and better equipment, thankfully, have helped to reduce the casualty rates among our Nation’s miners, work must continue to prevent tragedies from visiting our coalfield communities.


Twenty coal miners have perished in the mines this year. West Virginian’s continue to bear the pain of the tragedies at Upper Big Branch, Aracoma, and Sago, and beyond. We have a solemn duty to protect our miners, both those that have come before us and those who are working underground at this hour.


We should honor our miners, not just today, but every day. We should promote life-saving vigilance and work to protect the well-being of our miners long after they’ve hung up their hardhats for the last time. And we should recognize the value of our miners to our national economy through policies that keep their jobs secure.


Without our selfless and dedicated miners, American society would never have flourished, nor would it continue to function. It is fitting, therefore, that we recognize and honor these brave workers who have served our Nation quietly and faithfully for so many years.


U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) released the following statement encouraging West Virginians to show appreciation for our miners and mining families on National Miner’s Day:


“On National Miner’s Day, we honor and celebrate the bravest and most patriotic men and women I have ever met in my life. You can’t talk about coal without talking about coal miners. My own family first came to America to work in the mines. Growing up in the small coal-mining town of Farmington, I saw just how proud and courageous all the miners were. The fact is they deserve the same respect as our military veterans – because they go down into the mines for the same reasons that our veterans took up arms. It’s not just a job – it’s a calling, a way of life, even an act of patriotism in the defense of this great country. I have always fought for and pledge to continue to fight for coal, and I hope that our miners know that as long as there’s coal to mine, I will proudly stand by their side. I urge all West Virginians today to show appreciation for our hardworking miners and the mining families of this great state and our nation.”


The United Steelworkers (USW) released the following statement from USW International President Leo W. Gerard on the fourth annual National Miner’s Day:


“The USW is proud to count thousands of miners as members of our own union, and thousands more as brothers and sisters in the larger labor movement. As we mark National Miner’s Day, we remember the decades of tremendous sacrifices and hard work that brought us to this day, particularly of those who came before us and who lost their lives as they fought to improve working conditions for miners and for all workers. We will never forget them, or their struggles.


“Still, while we as a union and as a nation have a long history of improving the lives and working conditions of miners, and we rightly celebrate that progress today, we cannot lose sight of the challenges that remain. Our sisters and brothers at ASARCO and elsewhere are fighting every day for fair contracts that protect their job security, pensions and health care. Too many miners across the country and the world still go to work every day not sure if they will make it home at night. Too many are still exposed to life-threatening health and safety hazards on the job.


“While today is a day to celebrate and remember, it is also a day to rededicate ourselves to resolving these important issues. We must continue – today and every day - to stand up for a better life for all miners.”


Attorney General Patrick Morrisey issued the following statement about honoring coal miners on National Miner’s Day:


“On National Miner’s Day, we honor the coal miners who go to work every day to ensure the electricity needs of their families, their state, and their country are met. We remember the coal miners who have passed and honor their contributions to our communities. As Attorney General of the great State of West Virginia, I’ll do everything in my power to protect coal miners and our state’s way of life. I urge all West Virginians to thank a coal miner today for all of their hard work.”