A coal miner's strike which will cut off the country's electricity is imminent if protective legislation for miners is not enforced, Joseph Yablonski II said yesterday at a rally in Cambridge for the West Virginia Black Lung Association.
Yablonski's father was murdered last January after an unsuccessful attempt to unseat the incumbent president of the United Mine Workers of America.
Yesterday's rally-which took place at the Orson Welles Cinema-followed a screening of the film, The Molly Maguires. All proceeds from the film showing went to the Black Lung Association.
Yablonski told the group at the theatre that the miners would probably strike this summer.
"Americans may have to live without their air conditioners, and possibly by the light of a single bulb," Yablonski said, "but miners feel that only this kind of action will wake up people to the facts of poor mining conditions. 1970 is the year of the coal miner," he added.
Arnold Miller, a coal miner running for the state legislature in West Virginia, said miners were dying by the hundreds of lung disease incurred under unhealthy working conditions. Dr. Donald Rasmussen, who works at the Appalachian Regional Hospital, said that increased dust control regulations would reduce the deaths from black lung disease by 90 per cent.
"Unless the intellectual community rises in indignation over the plight of the coal miner, there's going to be hell in the coal fields of the United States," Yablonski said. "Miners have the power to raise havoc in this country and they're not afraid to use it."