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Image 3 of Mountain eagle (Whitesburg, Ky.), August 5, 1971

Part of Mountain eagle (Whitesburg, Ky.)

THE MOUNTAIN Letters . . . (from Page EAGLE WH I TESB URG , LETCHER COUNTY, KENTUCKY . . THURSDAY, Letcher County miners discuss hopes and desires for union 2) ' "nonserious" violation. ifrom Page Who are the stripmining interest trying to fool? We all support the coal industry, the only thing I take issue with is the method that is being used to extract the coal from the land. There is a right way and a wrong way to do anything, and strip mining is the wrong way. All you have to do is look around the county for all the visual proof you need. If the citizens of Eastern Kentucky stay complacentjnt, and don't put the pressure on their elected officials in Frankfort to pass a law to put a total ban on stripmining in the state of Kentucky, they will be just as guilty for letting the interest destroy East-eKentucky, as their forefathers were for selling the mineral rights for fifty cents an acre. As far as manufacturing goods in Eastern Kentucky is concerned (I am taking about the counties where strip mining interest is taking a devast toll) it's my opinion that the strip mining interest has set the development of this region back fifty years. You take the new highway system for example. It is one of the best road sys terns in the state of Kentucky, and cost millions of dollars to build, but if the strip mining continues, as it is at Its pre sent rate, it will just be a matter of time until the mud and silt take it back away from you. Take the Cam Fork Reservoir for another example, It is costing millions of dollars to build, but again I predict the water imit will be polluted and unfit for human use by the time the water backs all the way up in it. Again this will be the result of stripmining in this region. T o sum up what I am trying to say on this, I don't think the Government should spend another cent of the tax payers money on these types of projects in this region until the state of Kentucky passes a law that will put a total ban on stripmining in the state of Kentucky. If the Government does spend more money it would be a total waste as long as the stripmining interest the very foundation of what the Government is trying to accomplish. When the stripmining interest has robbed this region of its beauty and wealth and destroyed the economic potential of Eastern Kentucky, all that will be left is a giant mud hole for the around food people to wade them allin. will take with the natural beauty and the hopes and dreams of this generation, and generations to come. I hope the elected officials of the state of Kentucky, as guardian of the citizens rights of Eastern Kentucky have the vision and the wisdom, plus the courage of their convictions to pass laws to put a total ban on stripmining in the state of Kentucky, while there is still time to salvage for the proud people of Eastern Kentucky their property rights and their children s future. A BROWN THE MOUNTAIN EAGLE wel- comes contributions from its readers, but reserves the right to shorten them when necessary. Letters should be written as plainly as possible, or typed, on one of the sheet Letters should be only. mailed to "Editor, The Mountain Eagle, Box 808, Whitesburg, Kentucky, 41858. Letters cannot be returned. a job for life. Someone else should have a chance to try for it, " he said. Another ter her husband's dead, she union member added that ought to be able to keep that "if a guy knows he has to stand reelection, he's going card for as long as she is a respectable woman, " one to pay a lot more attention miner at the Hendrix mine to those who elect him. " Although only one of the stated. Also, some of the men felt miners talked to openly said that current policy of compenit, there appeared to be sation payments was unfair. dissatisfaction with Carson They note that under the preHibbits, who currently holds five of the six offices in two sent contract, if a man is killed in the mints, his wiU.M.W. districts , 28 and dow will receive full benefits. 30. The McRoberts men are But, the men claimed, if a part of District 30, based in man suffers injuries and dies "ikeville. "I remember it later--eve- n years later--froused to be that when you'd those injuries, his beneficiary call up there, you could talk will not receive the death com- to Carson, " a miner said. "Now you can't hardly ever pensation payments. Along this line, all the men get in touch with him at all, " agreed that there should be a he added. U.M.W. me mbers in the raise in the tonnage royalty currently paid by companies to McRoberts area have been e, generally regarded as the U. M.w. Welfare and R" meaning they etirement Fund. No specific figures were discussed in the support President Boyle despite the legal challenges separate talks with the men, against him on many fronts but the feeling seemed clear at the moment. "That's pretthat the raise should be subty much right, " one man stantial. 'The companies are making pretty good money said, "but only to a point. Naturally we have to stick right now, and can afford to pay more" was a common with him (Boyle) He's our President. We got a contract statement. The Fund payments have to get, and Boyle won't get remained at 40 cents a ton since by doing wrong by us on it. " A companion agreed. "We're 1952. Some union members not necessarily loyal to any claim that it should now go individual. Just the union. all the way up to $1 a ton to We need members and officers make up for years of underwho will stick for us, protect payment, particularly in view of the dollar's declining worth. us. " A supporter of Joseph Yablon-sWhen it came to the issue in 1969 ("and proud of it") of mine safety, none of the said that while he favored miners felt that that was somethe defeated, and now dead, thing which could be put into a contract. "It's something that opposition candidate then, he a company just has to do, will now back Boyle in the consaid one rr. H who has been tract. "We have to stick toon the union safety committee gether if we're going to get ac a what we need. " He claimed mine. All the men insisted that their emthat a lot of other active mis, ployer is and ners in the McRoberts area that it was following rigid profeel the same way. "A lot cedures to protect miners "even of the men voted for Yablon-sk- i, ' before the Safety Act passed, more than you think. as one said. But we're all behind the union, The problem of black lung no matter who's running it did trouble the men, however. at the moment, " he said. They felt that men entitled And, it was repeated again, to their black lung benefits "no contract, no work. have not been getting them. Other specific complaints Any miner who has worked the Letcher County men would 20 years or more should be like to see resolved in the conassumed to have the disease, tract include the following: all the men said, and should "I'd like to be able to take my vacations when I want, be paidwithout examinanot just in July. " Also, some tion. "They ought to get men said that they should get paid by the company, said as much vacation time as one. "After all, it's the company that's gotten them sick." their employers. "If the salAlso, the companies should aried men can get six weeks, pick up costs a miner might we should too. After all, if run up trying to prove his case it wasn't for us, the bosses if he's been working less than wouldn't be there. " the 20 years, the miners said. There should be seniority All the men interviewed rerights within each division. garded themsleves as good, This complaint related specifloyal union men. If there's ically to The no contract by October 1, and men charged that even with as much as 30 years, they the U.M.W. says no work, they'll go out. "You won't sometimes end up working hoot-ow- l" have to ask us twice. You shifts (night), while won't even have to ask us, " much less experienced men one explained. But at the going to work at a new mine same time, a degree of concern start right off working days. with certain current U. M. W. There should be a minimum practices was apparent. of 7 days' sick leave. Most noticeably, the men All of these concerns came out in just one afternoon among a all of them who were interviewed were active miners relatively small number of felt that they should have miners in just one of the union's the right to elect their own districts. They show that many district officers. Now, anyunion men have thought out what they need. But the men thing above local officer is appointed by the Washington "don't know what they decided U.M.W. headquarters. on (at the Policy meeting) in New York. " One miner comThe question of whether locals and districts should have plained that his union "goes autonomy is a major issue off and makes these contracts within the U. M. W. now. without asking us, the working men, " and that the men who "I don't like not having it assembled in New York were (local autonomy), " one ar ." little more than union man said. "I But all the men are confident a man elected think that of one thing: there will be a to a job will do a better job coal strike and maybe a long than an appointee. It's not one if the U.M.W gives the good to appoint someone to word. m m 734 WLLVIEW DR. CINCINNATI, OHIO 1) miners. "Right now, a widow can keep her welfare card for only 22 months af- strip-mini- BOBBY AUGUST 5, 1971 . . "Loyal-to-Boyl- A FALLEN GIANT IN LILLY'S WOOD. (Mountain Eagle photo by Lauran Emerson) ki Guidelines ignored in penalties for dangerous safety violations ifrom Page 2) After Eastern protest 'd these assessments many of the alleged serious violations were reduced to the nonserious category, slicing the total bill to $8, 675. Eastern now has paid $3,350 of the reduced amount and says it will seek a hearing on the remainder. A second round of proposed assessments, covering citations issued during the first three months of 1971, calls for an additional $13, 200 payment for Federal No. 2 This time the assessors had five hazard" withdrawal orders to consider, but their suggested penalty for each remained unchanged at $2,000. The first of these 19?1 orders was issued on January 21 when an inspector said he found excessive amounts of loose (and possibly explosive) coal in one section of the mine. probably would total around $6 million. In fact, however, they are expected to amount to only about $2.5 million. Actual penalties for all types of violations during the period up to March 31 probably will come only to $4. 5 million. (Though many of the cases date back before January, some as far as the spring of 1970, penalties in most cases weren't assessed until after the guidelines were drawn up. )' One intriguing commsnt on whether the Failor policy satisfies the intention of the 1969 act is contained in an opinion that an Interior Department hearing examiner recently handed down in the case of a small Wise County, Va., coal operator - the first occasion for an examiner's review of assessments proposed b y the bureau under the law. The respondent, Robe G. A TIDY SAVING Lawson Coal Co. , originally was assessed $800; the bureau The latest of the five orders later reduced the amount to came on March 16, when an $525. (The Company failed inspector found widespread deto pay the proposed figure and posits of tiny coal particles wasn't represented at the hearcalled "coal float dust". In ing.) However, Examiner Aladdition, one of the rubber -fred P. Whittaker, after applying tired coal shuttle cars had "exthe law's six criteria to 21 citacessive accumulations of oil tions against the company, concluded that a total of $9, 800 spillage" and an opening in the front headlight lens --holder in penalties - almost 20 times eater than the . 006 inch al -the bureau's figure - was called Swance by law; a second for. shuttle car had loose packing Discussing the question of emaround its rear electrical juncployer negligence as a factor in tion box, the inspector said. the stiffest single assessment, (Electrical connection open to $1,750, that he recommended mine atmosphere can be the Mr. Whittaker said: There is no source of explosion-causLi- g evidence in the record which sparks.) tends to how affirmatively It's impossible to say how much that the respondent took any the coal Industry is saving alaction at any time to shut down together because of Mr.Faior's the mine in question or to curassessment policy, but the effect tail his production of coal y of the bargain rates for "imshifting any ofhis mine workminent hazard'' withdrawal ormen to the urgent task of corders alone is fairly easy to recting the very real hazard. measure. Had the hi reau "Such action. . . clearly would assessors been guided by the have implemented the vital published $5,000 minimum, congressional intent to improve penalties proposed for such the actual working conditions in orders issued through March 31, the coal mines." "im-mene- nt Beth-Elkho- ru safety-consciou- Beth-Elkho- rn. 32-ye- "yes-men-

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