“I believe America’s greatest asset is the spirit of its people, just as the greatest asset of any business is the spirit of its employees,” Rahall said at the picnic.
“I look around me today and I see, in each of you, that uniquely American spirit.
“You are hard-working, dedicated, loyal, faithful and inspiring. You have demonstrated that a better future can truly be forged with the labor of two good hands.
“That ability has always been key to the bargain we call the American dream. Work hard and you can achieve it.”
Rahall spoke about the union’s fight to secure health and retiree benefits from Patriot Coal and Peabody Energy, stating that while the union was “fresh off some victories”, there was still much work to be done.
“So, on this Labor Day, let us rededicate ourselves to protecting the American spirit and the promise of the American dream for ourselves and for generations to come,” he concluded.
Rockefeller also provided an inspirational address to the miners and their families, speaking on the challenges facing the industry and the need for UMWA members in West Virginia to unite as a family.
“West Virginians taught me a lot about struggle and hard work, about opportunity lost and gained ... about the challenges working West Virginia families face every day as they fight to build better lives,” Rockefeller said.
“And most important of all, you made me and my family part of the West Virginia family. And for that I will always be in your debt.
“In this new time of energy shortages, coal miners are again being asked to fuel the energy needs of this great nation.
“And again the coal miners’ rights to organize, to health and safety, to a decent and full life are threatened.
“But I promise you, my West Virginia coal family, we are not going back.”