UMWA Remembers Farmington No. 9 Miners With Virtual Ceremony
November 16, 2020 - The United Mine Workers of America usually marks the anniversary of West Virginia's 1968 Farmington No. 9 mine disaster with a ceremony at the memorial in Mannington.
Union members, however, had to recognize the 78 coal miners away from the site because of the coronavirus pandemic. While wreaths were placed at the memorial, the union held a virtual remembrance ceremony on Sunday.
Thursday will mark 52 years since the explosion.
“Here we are as the entire country has to deal with the coronavirus,” union President Cecil Roberts said.
The mine explosion led to changes in coal mining, including regular inspections and punishments for violating federal standards.
Secretary-Treasurer Levi Allen said the move from the traditional ceremony should be a chance to educate more people about the changes stemmed from the tragedy.
“We’re going to have to fight to defend every single part of this world from people who want to walk back mine safety and health,” he said.
“Nothing can make us walk backward from remembering the Farmington miners because we are all alive today — those who toil in the mines after the fact — because of the sacrifice they made,” Allen added.
U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., sent a letter supporting the union’s memorial efforts. Manchin’s uncle, John Gouzd, was one of the victims of the mine explosion.