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Statement of United Mine Workers of America President Cecil Roberts on the tragedy at the Sago Mine

January 4, 2006

United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) International President Cecil E. Roberts issued the following statement today:

We are deeply saddened by the terrible tragedy that befell the Sago miners. Our hearts and our prayers go out to the miners' families, their loved ones and their communities. We are also praying for the full recovery of Mr. Randal McCloy, Jr., and for his family and friends. We continue to offer our assistance to the entire community to help in any way we can.

This terrible event was made worse for the families by the inexplicable confusion regarding initial reports that twelve of the miners had been found alive. That the families were allowed to believe for three hours that their loved ones were alive--when in fact only Mr. McCloy was--is inexcusable. The UMWA strongly encourages the appropriate state and federal officials to investigate how this could have happened, so that no family will ever have to suffer like this again.

This tragedy affects every coal miner in America, union and non-union alike. Though not members of the UMWA, the miners who work in the Sago mine include neighbors and relatives of UMWA members. I want to commend the brave members of the mine rescue teams, especially those from the UMWA-represented mines who risked their lives to go into the mine. Their efforts demonstrate once again that we are all brothers and sisters in the coal fields, and we pull together to help each other in times like these.

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