As I stepped down off the chartered bus following our ride from St. Clairsville, Ohio Valley Mall to Henderson County Courthouse, in Henderson, Kentucky, I was met by an officer of the law wearing a blue uniform and a shiny badge. I thought for a moment I had done something wrong already. Then the policeman smiled and reached out ot shake my hand, and we gave each other an Ohio-Kentucky hug and told me "welcome" to Henderson and "enjoy my visit." That is what I call hospitality. It turned out they are on the Union Mineworkers side, but still have a sworn job to protect everybody.
People on the buses came from Moundsville, St. Clairsville and Zanesville in the Upper Ohio Valley area. Many brought wives, co-workers and friends with them to show support for the miners at Peabody Energy Corp., Patriot Coal Corp., and Arch Coal Inc. What Peabody is doing to their workers who made them a giant in the coal industry is totally uncalled for. Putting retiree's medical benefits and pensions on the backs of Patriot Coal Company formed by Peabody with some of the same officers only changing titles was a business plan for bankruptcy waiting to happen. Then Judge Kathy Surrant-States of the US Bankruptcy Court of the Eastern District of Missourt gave her approval of this. How nice, appeal please.
It was a picture perfect day with the sun shining down on the filled tree filled park plaza with intersecting sidewalks throughout the grounds of the Henderson County Courthouse property. Speakers at the rally included Cecil Roberts - U.M.W.A. President; and Dan Kane-Secretary-Treasurer, Kentucky AFL-CIO President, Bill Londigran; Henderson County Judge-Executive Hugh McCormick; State Senator, Dorsey Ridley of Henderson and Jerry Rhodes of Madison; State Rep. Brent Yonts of Greenville and Michael Pape, District Director for U.S. Rep. Ed Whitfield. Buses came from every state where coal is mined and parked three wide for a city block. Crowds estimated at 10,000 people, from all over Kentucky came out also to support the mineworkers. More rallies and protests will be held until justice prevails.