When coal mine employee John Morecraft heard last Monday that United Mine Workers of America President Cecil Roberts approved of President Joe Biden’s plan to move the nation’s energy industry away from fossil fuels, Morecraft said he anticipated the news would be misconstrued.
“I knew the story would come across as though all coal miners approved of this deal, with no mention of how [un]representative the UMWA is of the coal miner population,” said Morecraft, just before going down for his shift at the Bailey Mine here in Greene County.
“The UMWA in actuality represents a small portion of the people who work in the mines,” Morecraft said. “What that means is, that deal was not made with the support of most of the people who do the work in the industry.”
He is not wrong.
According to the latest energy statistics for the U.S. government, there are 6,758 coal miners working underground in this country today who are members of the UMWA, compared to the 24,820 miners, such as Morecraft, who are not members of the union.
The same goes for the surface-mine workforce, where just over 3,000 are members of the UMWA, compared to the nearly 17,000 who are not.
Once a dominant force that represented virtually everyone working in the entire industry, the UMWA membership today is the smallest portion of the mining workforce.
Had you not really followed the decline of the UMWA membership over the decades and were sitting at home watching the news reports and thought, “Oh, wow, the coal miners are now backing Biden’s ‘climate-justice’ infrastructure package, maybe it is not that bad,” you were misled.
Also to be fair, the press will present things that way because the press, too, is there to advance the interests of the Democratic Party.
And if you were misled — well, that’s the whole point.