THE HISTORY OF THE UMWA's STAND ON SOUTH AFRICAN COAL

by members of Birmingham Coalition to Stop South African Coal
Birmingham, Alabama, United States
Undated, about late January 1975
2 pages
Type: Conference Presentation
Coverage in Africa: South Africa
Coverage outside Africa: United States
Language: English
This document was circulated at the Conference to Stop South African Coal held February 1 and 2, 1975 in Atlanta, Georgia. It discusses news stories about how the United Mine Workers leadership has related to the campaign in the last year ("S. African coal protest illegal, to end" by Stewart Lytle and "State miners expected to jam park rally here" by Marvin Clemons). Our position on how to relate the struggles of miners and other people in the U.S. to the struggle for Azanian liberation comes partly from lessons learned from working to build the campaign in Alabama. On May 22, 1973, in Birmingham, the Coalition to Stop South African Coal called a demonstration at a stockholders' meeting of the Southern Company; the District 20 UMWA leadership endorsed the rally, and over 6,000 miners walked off their jobs to protest the coal's importation, while about 1,200 miners and others took part in the demonstration. That rally, through speeches, picket signs, and leaflets, put forward the line that the fight to stop the coal was part of the fight against the imperialist system, and particularly its oppression of the Azanian people. In July, the United Mine Workers (UMW) Washington office put two ads in several Alabama newspapers; one ad was a picture of a Black miner who was "concerned about slave labor in South Africa." On November 28, in Washington D.C., the UMW agreed with the NLRB (National Labor Relations Board) that all actions it had taken against South African coal were illegal and pledged that the union would have nothing more to do with the campaign to stop the coal. Throughout the UMW's participation in the campaign, the union bureaucrats encouraged rank-and-file miners to rely not on themselves, but on politicians like George Wallace and Attorney-General Bill Baxley, and on the courts, to stop the coal.  The document discusses the fight against oppression in South Africa, UMW District 20 President Sam Littlefield, Australian and other foreign coal, International Representative Frank Clements, Alabama Power Co., Gulf Power, Peabody Coal, Alabama By-Products, a Pensacola plant, the Commissioner of Customs, the United Nations, blacks, Lloyd Baker, Kelly  Ingram Park, the Port of Mobile, longshoremen, the vessel Baker, the Coast Guard, ships, the Gulf of Mexico, steam plants, and jobs.
Collection: Vincent Klingler papers