BEALLSVILLE - Coal miners at the American Energy Corp. Century Mine said they want President Barack Obama to stop what they term "the war on coal" - and to stop spreading "mistruths" about them.
Miners gathered Friday afternoon to express their opposition to Obama's energy and environmental policies, which they believe threaten their jobs. Miner Mitch Miracle read aloud a letter the miners mailed to Obama that outlines some of their concerns.
The miners said Obama's campaign team is running ads filled with "blatantly false" statements about the miners regarding their participation in Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney's August campaign stop at the Century Mine. These ads assert that the miners were forced to attend the event by the mine's owner, Robert Murray.
"There are numerous false statements and absolute lies concerning our participation in this event, mostly started by a local 'shock jock' radio host," the miners' letter to Obama states. "Why would you (Obama) lie about the 500 working miners who have signed this letter? We, the employees of the Century Mine would request you immediately stop these false ads."
This summer, Murray Energy Corp., parent company of the Beallsville mine, cut or relocated 56 workers with the closure of the Red Bird West mine near Brilliant. Murray also cut 29 mining jobs from The Ohio Valley Coal Co.'s Powhatan No. 6 Mine. All of this was done, Robert Murray said, because of Obama's "war on coal."
Murray then hosted the Romney campaign stop in Beallsville in August, during which many miners appeared behind Romney as the former Massachusetts governor spoke about the need to protect coal mining jobs. In response to the assertion some have made about the miners being forced to appear with Romney, the miners made several points on Friday:
- No employee was forced to attend the event.
- There were no attendance records taken for hourly employees.
- There were absolutely no penalties or reprimands to those who did not attend.
- Due to security concerns for the Romney campaign, there was a list for transportation purposes.
- They were "honored" to host Romney at the mine.
As for anyone who claims the miners were forced to attend, those on-site Friday said these assertions probably came from "discharged or disgruntled former employees."
Despite the miners' Friday statements, Ohio Democrats have requested a federal investigation regarding Murray's campaign contributions and practices.