Union miners take part in March on Blair Mountain
BY M.L. RAMSBURG
Terry Steele is a proud member of the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA). A resident of Mador, WV, Steele worked as an underground coal miner for 26 years. He’s a member of UMWA Local 1440 in Matewan. Press materials provided by March on Blair organizers said Local 1440 is “the largest UMWA local in southern West Virginia.” Steele is one of a number of UMWA members participating in the March on Blair Mountain.
While the UMWA has not officially endorsed the March, many members of the organization wear official UMWA t-shirts while marching. UMWA banners and signs have also been carried along the walking route.
Many marchers wear red bandannas that read, “Be a real redneck, support union miners.” Some believe that the derogatory term “redneck” came into use during the 1921 Battle of Blair Mountain. At the time, union miners wore red bandannas on their necks.
Steele said one reason he supports the March, and their subsequent opposition to strip mining at both the historical Blair Mountain and other sites around Appalachia, is because, “mountaintop removal is destroying jobs. It’s destroying union jobs.”
In this audio clip, Steele shares why he thinks it’s important to stand up for union jobs – and the environment – in movements like the March on Blair Mountain. [Running time: 01:10]