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United Mine Workers of America President Cecil E. Roberts Won't Back Down from the "Bully of West Virginia"

date: 
July 5, 2005

Roberts says Blankenship can't "shut me or the UMWA up" when it comes to speaking about issues critical to UMWA members and working families

In his first public response to a lawsuit filed by Massey Energy and its CEO, Don Blankenship, United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) International President Cecil E. Roberts said today,

"Don Blankenship's attitude seems to be that if he can't have his way and bully people into doing his bidding, then he'll sue them. Well, I've never backed down from bullies, and I'm not going to start now.

"By filing this suit, Don Blankenship wants to shut me up and shut the UMWA up when it comes to talking about issues that our members and working families care about," Roberts said. "He can't stand it that we won't bow down to him and his way of thinking. I've got some news for Don: This union-and this union leader-have never backed down to bullies, and we never will.

"If you don't stand up to bullies, you just encourage them to go further and run roughshod over more people," Roberts said. "Don Blankenship's been trying to do this for some time in West Virginia, and I'm here to say that those days are over. We're looking forward to vigorously contesting and prevailing over Blankenship's desperate attempt to use a lawsuit to gag those who are the voices of the citizens of West Virginia."

Massey Energy and Blankenship filed suit in Fairfax County, Va. last month seeking damages from the UMWA and Cecil Roberts personally regarding statements that Massey alleges damaged its business, as well as the company's and Blankenship's reputation. The suit also alleges, among other things, a conspiracy between the UMWA, the Charleston Gazette, West Virginia Consumers for Justice and West Virginia AFL-CIO President Kenneth Purdue to damage the company and Blankenship.

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