Stop Coal Companies From Erasing Labor Union History
  • Petitioned National Register of Historic Places

This petition was delivered to:

Barbara Wyatt, Historian Reviewer
National Register of Historic Places
Susan Pierce, Deputy Historic Preservation Officer
West Virginia Division of Culture and History
West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection
West Virginia
Sen. Jay Rockefeller

Stop Coal Companies From Erasing Labor Union History

    1. Petition by

      Friends of Blair Mountain

 

The Battle of Blair Mountain was the largest armed conflict on American soil since the Civil War and the largest labor confrontation ever. It erupted when more than 10,000 West Virginia coal miners confronted an industry-backed army for a week in 1921. The miners were fighting to gain collective bargaining rights, to escape the domination of coal operators, and for the basic right to live and work in decent, safe conditions.

The history of Blair Mountain is that of all Americans.

The coal miners who worked and struggled during the West Virginia Mine Wars formed a rock-hard union solidarity that diffused to the rest of the nation through the Appalachian outmigration that has occurred from the 1930s until today. They went to steel foundries in Pittsburgh, the car factories in Detroit, and the mills in Ohio. They carried with them the memory and heritage of the labor struggles in central Appalachia, and they were a major force in building the labor unions that in themselves helped build the prosperous middle class of the 20th century.

Blair Mountain stands at the heart of American prosperity, and the coal miners who fought and died there did so for the basic freedom of living and working in decent, safe conditions.

But most people have never heard of Blair Mountain. That's because West Virginia has, for years, resisted preserving or commemorating the site. Nowadays, major coal companies Arch Coal and Massey Energy (the one responsible for the deadly explosion last April) own a lot of the land and hold permits to blast away the landscape for the most devastating of all coal mining practices: Mountaintop removal mining. They literally want to erase history here.

This can be stopped. If only the National Register of Historic Places would list the site, then its preservation would be required. Except that federal official ultimately turned down a listing this year -- amid objections of 57 "landowners" filed by the state. According to activists, however, this list is flawed and some of these people are even dead. And, already, Friends of Blair Mountain has documented the disturbance of five locations on the 1,700 acre site.

Tell Interior Department officials and the state of West Virginia to save the site of the Battle of Blair Mountain without delay. It's time to stop the destruction of West Virginia and preserve this one small example of rebellion from the grip of Big Coal.

P.S.  From June 4th-11th, supporters will unite for a weeklong solidarity march on Blair Mountain.The March on Blair Mountain is a peaceful, unifying rally involving environmental justice organizations, workers, scholars, artists, and other citizens and groups. The march commemorates the 90th anniversary of the Battle of Blair Mountain. It will start in Charleston, West Virginia and end 50 miles later with a rally at Blair Mountain. Please consider attending if you can

 

Recent signatures

    News

    1. New study shows birth defects associated with MTR

      A landmark new study finds that rates for six out of seven types of birth defects increase by over 50% near mountaintop removal mine sites. The World Coal Association says they don't care, because it's "only one aspect of an issue."

    2. Reached 25,000 signatures
    3. Unitarian Universalists Join the March on Blair Mountain

      Read an update on the march from Unitarians who traveled all the way from Salt Lake City to march for Blair Mountain.

      You can read more at the link.

    4. CNN! Environment vs. Jobs in the new Battle of Blair Mountain:

    5. Read a news account about the rally on Saturday at this local news station:

    6. The March on Blair Mountain rally is happening today! Hundreds of people will be there. Check out this new video: "Working People & Blair Mountain," highlighting the connections between Blair Mountain and the labor movement.

    7. Jon Gensler of Huntington, West Virginia in The Christian Science Monitor: "Blair Mountain II: The new battle over coal mining in West Virginia:

    8. Robert Kennedy Jr. on why the March on Blair Mountain is such an important protest:

    9. The march continues today. Read coal field author and journalist Jeff Biggers, "Blair Mountain Emergency: Obama Is Obliged by Deathtoll to Order Mountaintop Removal Moratorium"

    10. Wow, 20,000 signatures! This is an outcry of support. Check out this new article in The Nation:

    11. Reached 20 signatures
    12. Check out this awesome article from The Charleston Gazette about the ongoing Blair Mountain march:

    13. Reached 17 signatures
    14. After signing, you can follow the progress of the march -- happening now! -- virtually on Twitter. Check out the account @marchonblairmt:

    15. Reached 10 signatures
    16. Here are pictures from the first day of the March on Blair Mountain:

      Featured in the photo, beginning to march: United Mine Workers of America, Local 1440 from Matewan, West Virginia.

    17. Reached 2 signatures
    18. The march on Blair Mountain starts today! Hundreds are expected:

      If you can't attend, please sign the petition and send it along to friends!

    19. Comment from Beth Crowe, Bloomington, Indiana:

      My grandfather was a coal miner in western Pennsylvania & I remember him talking about the fight miners had just to obtain the right to organize. As the Frick mine was worked out he moved his family to Gary, IN & worked at US Steel where he remained until he retired.

      Because of a union & the benefits gained through collective bargaining, this man of immigrants, with only an 8th grade education & strong work ethic was able to save nearly a half million dollars in his life.

      This is our history.

    20. Reached 2 signatures
    21. Comment from John Clay:
      As a native West Virginian I find the destruction of Blair Mountain appalling. Massey is systematically destroying the state and it's citizen's. Rid the state of Massey Coal

    22. Comment from Pat Mann of Crawford, CO:

      Both of my husband's grandfathers participated in the Battle of Blair Mountain. It was a historic event that changed the way workers were treated across the country. This site should be preserved as the Historic Site that it is. Please do not allow corporate greed to count more than our national history.

    23. Reached 1 signatures
    24. Come to West Virginia and join the March on Blair Mountain on June 4th - June 11th. It will start in Charleston and end with a rally in Blair, including awesome musical performances and speeches!

      Here are details about how you can get involved:

    Supporters

    Reasons for signing

    • Clyde Augustinos WALDORF, MD, MD
      • about 3 years ago

      Try mountain top removal in ANWR. (Artic National Wildlife Refuge) in Alaska. You can't even build a road let alone drill for oil which would bring countless jobs. The issue is money. They tried to build a Wal-Mart on a Civil War site in Virginia. Under pressure Wal-Mart withdrew. Don't even think of fillling in a "wetland". Many projects require an enviromental impact statement which may take years. Mountain top removal should be banned anywhere in the United States. Especially where there is water involved.

      However we MUST help these people, not destroy their jobs and walk away. Perhaps a tax credit for underground mining in leiu of mountain top removal is in order.

      REPORT THIS COMMENT:
    • Bonni McKeown CHARLESTON, WV
      • about 3 years ago

      Because we should not be tearing down ANY mountain that God put here. A small greedy clique plans to wipe out all our history, our jobs and our mountains and keep all the money for themselves.

      REPORT THIS COMMENT:
    • Janice Kirk DELBARTON, WV
      • about 3 years ago

      Our Mountains are Beautiful to WV People & we want to keep them that way!!

      REPORT THIS COMMENT:
    • Alexandria Knox MANCHESTER, NH
      • about 3 years ago

      Unions have built the United States. THeir history needs to be preserved and always remembered, especially the coal miners. They have extremely hard working conditions.

      www.honorguardbugler.com

      REPORT THIS COMMENT:
    • Rebecca Lewis MECHANICSVILLE, VA
      • about 3 years ago

      A large part of the history of what coal families fought and gave their lives for will be lost. To many people put a monetary price on history and forget that people that paid with there lives.

      REPORT THIS COMMENT:

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