By Woodrow Wilcox
Years ago, my cousin John Riffe started working in the coal mines of Kentucky as a boy. One day, he overheard one supervisor say to another that the mules in the mine were worth more than the men in the mine. That infuriated my cousin. One man was always worth more than all the mules in the world in his thinking. So, he became an organizer for the United Mine Workers of America.
When John Riffe was “blacklisted” from working in coal mines because of his labor union organizing efforts, he went to work in steel mills and was an organizer for the United Steel Workers of America. Eventually, John Riffe became the Vice President of the Congress of Industrial Organizations (C.I.O.). He was the Vice President of the C.I.O. when it merged with the A.F.L. to form the A.F.L.-C.I.O.
My cousin John Riffe and other labor union organizers and leaders wanted the lives, health, and safety of the workers to be honored and respected. Coal mine companies and steel mill companies had a bad record of disregarding the value of the lives of the workers. At one time, if a man died in a coal mine accident, the coal mine company would pay for the funeral and give the widow $50.
Brave men worked in the coal mines. They did not mind the work. But, they wanted their lives and their families to be valued, honored, and respected. The most practical way to do that was by organizing a labor union. If a man died in a coal mine accident, his family should not fall into destitution. After all, the coal mine companies owned the mines and their managers directed the labor of the workers. If a worker died, shouldn’t the coal mine company compensate and support the widow and children of the dead coal miner? The same principle held for steel workers who were killed or injured.
RESPECT AND VALUE FOR THE LIVES OF THE WORKERS WAS A CENTRAL THEME OF THE LABOR UNION ORGANIZING MOVEMENT. RESPECT AND VALUE FOR THE LIVES OF UNBORN BABIES SHOULD BE ANOTHER CENTRAL THEME OF THE LABOR UNION MOVEMENT TODAY.
The cause to value the lives of workers and the cause to value the lives of the unborn are allied causes. Each demands respect for human life. That is why I am against giving any labor union political money to any candidate who supports the abortion on demand industry which makes billions of dollars per year to disrespect human life. Coal miners should be protected to have the best chance of leaving a mine safely. And, unborn babies should have the best chance possible to leave their mother’s body safely. Please, join with me to demand that labor union leaders and labor union political money support only candidates who support the protection of workers’ lives and unborn babies’ lives.
© 2010 Woodrow Wilcox