CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Thousands of coal miners refused to show up for work today across southern West Virginia, after the head of the United Mine Workers told cheering supporters, "It's time for labor to rise up and fight back."
A rally Sunday drew 12,000 people outside the state Capitol to call attention to UMW's 2-month-old strike against the Pittston Coal Group. This morning, several other mining companies reported walkouts.
Gary White, president of the West Virginia Coal Assn., an industry group, estimated that a third of the state's 30,000 miners stayed home today, most of them in the southern part of the state. There was no evidence that the walkouts affected operations in other states.
"It's time for labor to rise up and fight back," UMW President Richard Trumka told protesters. "The 1990s will see us resisting like we did in the '60s, in the streets, in the hallways, in the corridors of power."
David Todd, a spokesman for Hobet Mining in Madison, said union miners did not report for work beginning with the midnight shift.