On Tuesday, September 24, 2013, thousands of miners and their supporters marched and rallied in St. Louis to protest Peabody Energy’s continued refusal to pay for health care benefits promised to retired miners, their widows and dependents.
Ed Weisbart, MD, Chair of Physicians for a National Health Program–St. Louis, was among the speakers who addressed the spirited crowd.
“You have joined the struggle to build a nation where health care is a human right, where this right is not on the negotiating table to be traded against a decent living wage, and where the rich can’t get richer by blocking your ability to get your medicine, to see your doctor, and to have your life saved in a hospital,” Weisbart said.
“You have joined the struggle for single-payer health care.”
Dr. Weisbart, who marched with a large banner from his organization, spoke of the need to support HR 676, Expanded and Improved Medicare for All, and ended by thanking the miners for their struggle saying, “Physicians for a National Health Program (PNHP) is honored to walk beside you.”
After the rally 15 miners and supporters were arrested for civil disobedience when they briefly blocked traffic in downtown St. Louis at the Peabody Energy building at 7th and Market Streets.
Among those arrested was Terrence Melvin, President of the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists (CBTU) and Secretary-Treasurer of the New York State AFL-CIO. “I’ve never been in a mine, but today I am a mine worker,” Melvin told a roaring crowd.
UMWA President Cecil Roberts told demonstrators that the fight for health care for retired miners is “a faith-based struggle, a civil rights-based struggle,” with the potential to “turn America around.”
This was the 16th massive rally in this fight and will be followed by more. The next one is scheduled for Tuesday, October 15 in St. Louis.
The UMWA press release:
Dr. Weisbart’s prepared remarks:
Sign the petition to help the miners:
Sample resolution for HR 676: