Robin Holstein, native of eastern Kanawha County and daughter of a U.M.W.A. retiree contacted United State’s Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) to urge his support of the Miner’s Protection Act.
Diamond, West Virginia 25015
Contact: Robin A Holstein
robinholstein [at] gmail.com FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Kanawha County woman urges support of miners.
Charleston, W.Va. – Robin Holstein, native of eastern Kanawha County and daughter of a U.M.W.A. retiree contacted United States Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) to urge his support of the Miner’s Protection Act.
“I wrote a pretty long letter to Senator McConnell.” Holstein stated. “ I was not able to attend the Labor Day event in DC because my mother was hospitalized. I took my father to the recent gathering for U.M.W.A. retirees held in Charleston. It was heartbreaking to see those men and women. They spent their lives believing the dangerous work they engaged in guaranteed their care, they had the President of the United States’ word on it. “
Holstein recalled many of the retirees struggled to walk the aisles of the Municipal Auditorium. Almost every vehicle on the adjoining parking lot displayed a handicap parking permit. “These men have already paid for their benefits. The least I could do for them, for my Dad, was take the time to write a letter. “
“It is insane that these men and their families are in this position,” Holstein continued. “Our government can find money to study weight loss of shrimp on treadmills, they can find money to take care of these men and women.”
The text of the letter follows.
Honorable Senator McConnell:
They are stooped, limping, gasping for breath, bearded, clean shaven, gray haired or bald. Some wear caps, and some wear jackets, many with union local logo. These are the men and wives, and family members of those who spent their best years in a, dark, damp, dusty, noisy hole to mine the coal that powers the generators that create the electricity that kept your lights on. Primarily men, overwhelmingly white, Appalachians, a group it seems still permitted to be ridiculed by the politically correct.
The little joy expressed on their long faces, as they rekindle lost friendships, quickly evaporates as reality sets in. “Get ready to bend over,” one man announces as he walks to his seat. The once strong union, the mighty UMWA now struggles under the looming threat of a lost promise.
Laboring their lifetimes with the understanding of ‘cradle to grave’ medical care, the destruction of their livelihood, their communities, their culture, now costs them their health. Contract after contract, members deferred wage increases for the promise of retirement benefits.
“The beginning of the end of the UMW was the contract that gave up the right to strike,” my father said again.
Environmentalists and politically correct thought-police call them rednecks, hillbillies, and the new buzz phrase “white non-educated workers” designed to disguise contempt for their way of life. A life, however, the same elites could never survive. The language and behaviors would never be acceptable toward other cultures or minorities.
To call them uneducated is in itself uneducated. These men have decades of hands-on training, skills, and knowledge of equipment, metals, chemicals, hydraulics, engineering, and more that Berkley grads will never learn. Their ‘safe space’ is 10 yards outside the mine opening, or a rescue shelter miles underground. They get no stress dogs or Playdough® in their school.
These men still open their meetings with prayer. They remove their hats and stand for the National Anthem. You won’t see their members kneel in protest against their country. They come to learn the options. What they are to do if the promise of President Truman is broken.
Yes, other industries have shut down and left retirees in similar situations. This is different. This union entered into agreement with a United States President in 1946. Dig the coal, suffer the conditions, the dust, the sickness, don’t strike during this period (WWII) and you and your widows will have healthcare for life. There was no deadline, no expiration date.
Coal miners are now, and have been as important to this country as our military, law enforcement, and first responders. Without the coal they risked their lives for there would be no steel for tanks, ambulances, or planes. There would be no electricity to build our weapons of war. Alternative energy may be on the way, but it did not build this nation, nor save it from destruction. Coal kept the lights on in the factories, the hospitals, the halls of Congress, and the White House.
These retirees have risked their lives and many have given their lives. Whether immediately in a roof collapse, explosion, or lingering with diseases such as black lung, or the debilitating deformities which occur after decades of crawling, stooping, and maneuvering the wet, cramped conditions that would render today’s university student catatonic with fear.
In our country, we find funding to support refugees from war-torn countries, or those seeking shelter from various forms of persecution. Federal grants are awarded for studies of shrimp on treadmills or tattoo removal programs. Surely, in this nation we can find the money to keep this promise to the retirees and widows.
My mother died four weeks ago. My father, a UMWA retiree, is 76 and ill. I ask you sir; please support these men and women.
Robin A Holstein
United States Citizen
Coal Miner’s Daughter
CC: US Senator Joe Manchin