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Hobet shutdown a "tragedy that can be stopped."

August 13, 2008
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United Mine Workers of America International President Cecil E. Roberts issued the following statement today:

“The news that Patriot Coal has issued a Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act notice that layoffs of hourly workers will begin soon at the Hobet Mine in Boone and Lincoln counties comes as a heavy blow to the over 350 UMWA members who work there and their families.

“Once again, their jobs have been put on the chopping block through no fault of their own,” Roberts said. “These dedicated and hard-working coal miners are doing their best to provide for their families and keep their communities economically viable. Yet today, their reward for doing all the right things appears to be unemployment. There is something fundamentally wrong with this picture.

“West Virginia needs these jobs,” Roberts said. “Boone and Lincoln counties need these jobs. The economic impact on the economies of those two counties will be swift and devastating. Stores, gas stations and restaurants will be threatened. Other business will be squeezed, causing layoffs to ripple through the coalfield communities. The impact on the budgets for schools and other essential services the local governments provide will likewise be severe. The jobs of teachers and government workers will be put at risk.

“The UMWA is not going to stand idly by and watch all that happen,” Roberts said. “We have repeatedly said that we will do whatever we need to do to preserve our members’ jobs, no matter where they work. That’s what we’re going to do at Hobet.

“We have and will continue to support all efforts to defend the jobs at Hobet through the legal process and elsewhere,” Roberts said. “We will fight to defend our members’ livelihoods. We are prepared to work with whoever we need to work with to save these jobs.

“This is a tragedy that can be stopped,” Roberts said. “Before we go down a road from which there is no return, we call on all involved to think of the full range of economic and social devastation that is looming here. There must be a solution that can be found other than the annihilation of these jobs and the destruction of lives and communities that is sure to follow.”

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