I sent the following letter to Majority Leader, Senator Mitch McConnell. (Slightly edited for brevity) If he responds, I will publish it here. Contact those we put in office today. And call or email McConnell today. Give him your thoughts. His information is at the end.
Dear Senator McConnell,
I'm a writer and adjunct professor (currently on hiatus) who mostly writes about Appalachia. I care for this region and want to see our miners protected. I'm writing because I stand with thousands of miners and their families urging you to immediately take action regarding the “Coal Miner's Protection Act." (Senate Bill 1714)
Without your immediate action, thousands more coal miners will lose their healthcare on December 31, 2016. The Miner's Protection Act will make sure they keep their health insurance and benefits promised to them by the US government in 1946. This promise was made under President Truman's watch and it must be kept. Our miners earned these benefits over decades of back-breaking work.
I was born and raised in Logan County, West Virginia, a child, grandchild, and niece of coal miners, and even I, with my extensive formal and informal education, cannot craft an even-tempered response to my inquisitive students or the children in my family as to precisely how our region ended up one of the poorest in the nation while we have been obscenely rich with two of the most valuable resources: coal and men to mine it. And now, our miners aren't being cared for.
My uncles, Manuel, Mary, Joe, and John Ojeda, mined coal for decades, just as their father, Senon Ojeda did, just as my other grandfather Alex Fekete, my father Terry, and his brother Manuel did.
My family has logged over 150 years in the mines. In West Virginia, family is loyal. In West Virginia, we're all family. You best believe I have a rabid dog in this fight.
My family and thousands of others, have provided this nation with decades and decades of resources. Now they are forgotten? I am livid. Our people are livid. We will not stand for this. Neither should you allow it.
Our widows now live with uncertainty and fear, taking residence inside the cracks of once rock-solid beliefs (and allegiance to) justice and the American Dream.What cruel paradoxes reign here in Appalachia--fading “friends of coal” and “coal keeps the lights on” stickers peeling from the bumpers of trucks, while the reality of being left in the dark grows ever more vivid. Where are our "friends" now that are miners are aged and/or ailing? This bill is a moral response but also economically sound. It costs taxpayers nothing. It is supported from the Abandoned Mine Land Fund.
Appalachia is a poor region, yet still filled with an unusually high number of soldiers and an unmatched work ethic. By the sweat of their brows, our coal miners have fueled this nation, while raising the sons and daughters who would defend it.
By allowing thousands of miners to lose their healthcare on December 31st, what are you saying to them--the foundations of this nation and their offspring who defend it--your constituents? What are telling them with your inaction, Senator McConnell, about their worth, about justice, and the American Dream?
Once I receive your response, I will be happy to include it alongside any online magazines, blogs, Facebook pages, and/or literary journals that may publish this letter.
I thank you for your time and pray you'll do the right thing and take action. MOVE this bill to the floor. Force the coal companies Keep the Promise!
Respectfully and Sincerely,
Call or write his DC office today!
317 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington DC 20510