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Guest column/Mitt Romney is all wrong about coal industry

October 28, 2012
By RICAHRD TRUMKA , The Herald-Star

Mitt Romney says coal country is his country. He's wrong. It's our country.

I'm a third-generation coal miner from the small town of Nemacolin in the mountains of Southwest Pennsylvania, not too far from here.

From my parents and grandparents and my friends and neighbors, I learned the nature of hard work, of creating value out of a hole in the ground. I learned that actions have consequences, that my word must be my bond. As a miner myself, I learned that mines are inherently dangerous. I also understand that miners will always protect the safety of our coworkers, and owners will too often put profits first.

Let me tell you, Mitt Romney doesn't know a thing about hard work or responsibility, and he sure doesn't know anything about mining coal.

I'll never forget the day I told my father I landed a job in the mines. He was angry with me. He said if I went down there once, the coal would creep down into my soul, and I'd never get it out.

Back then, I didn't understand why he was mad. But now I do. My father died from black lung. And now I understand, too, that he worked that job to give me a better life. I did the same for my son. It's the same thing that millions of us do, every day, as we work hard to make a better life for our kids.

There are a lot of tough jobs in this country, and if I know one thing it's that Americans know how to work, how to create value - not by investing money or gaming the system, but by using our skills, our knowledge and our own two hands.

Mitt Romney got rich by making America poor. And he doesn't support safety regulations for coal mines. He doesn't honor the rights of working people on the job.

He wants fewer firefighters, police officers and teachers.

Romney may put on a good show, parading through our towns, but we've seen how much he respects us when he's behind closed doors - his job, as he sees it, is not to concern himself with the "47 percent" - that is, retirees, those in military uniform or hard-working people whose low pay makes them eligible for the Earned Income Tax Credit.

Romney said, "Let Detroit go bankrupt."

Romney's investment company led the way outsourcing good jobs to China.

Romney wants to voucherize Medicare and privatize Social Security.

Today Romney says he'll be a coal president? Well, he's also anti-coal. Not too long ago, he stood in front of a coal-fired power plant in Massachusetts and said "coal kills people." He said he'd never support the coal industry.

While he was governor, Massachusetts sued the EPA forcing them to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through regulations that kill coal jobs.

Who is this guy?

Do you want to know what Mitt Romney is really like? It's not pretty. He'd sell out America in a heartbeat for a buck.

He's the same man whose company forced factory workers in northern Illinois to take down the American flag while training Chinese workers who would eventually take their jobs. Only when the Chinese workers left were those American workers allowed to raise our flag again.

Maybe Wall Street is OK with someone like that, but I wouldn't want that man anywhere near the White House.

The truth is, Mitt Romney's entire life has been one of entitlement and privilege. And now he believes he's entitled to becoming president. He thinks it's for sale.

And along the way, he's proven he'll say just about anything to get a vote.

Don't buy it. Don't let him get away with it. And definitely don't let him get away with his flimsy and phony appeals to coal country.

And don't let him fool you with false charges against President Barack Obama. Under Obama coal production has gone up 7 percent. Since taking office, $5 billion has been invested in clean coal technology.

Support American jobs. Keep mines safe and miners alive. Don't forget to vote on Election Day.

(Trumka is president of the AFL-CIO.)

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