Jason George, Political and Special Projects Director for the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 49, issued the following statement to the media in response to comments in today’s New York Times attacking the hard-working men and women of northeast Minnesota:
“The article in today’s New York Times about the future of mining and the city of Ely, Minn. requires a comment. Specifically, the quotes attributed to Becky Rom and her husband Reid Carron are something that I cannot ignore.
“Danny Forsman drives to the mine in his truck, comes home and watches TV, and he doesn’t know this world exists,” says Becky Rom.
“Resentment is the primary driver of the pro-mining crowd here — they are resentful that other people have come here and been successful while they were sitting around waiting for a big mining company,” Carron told me. “They want somebody to just give them a job so they can all drink beer with their buddies and go four-wheeling and snowmobiling with their buddies, not have to think about anything except punching a clock.”
In my opinion, and in my experience sitting through public hearing after public hearing listening to environmental activists dismiss and belittle construction jobs, the sentiments expressed by Rom and Carron very accurately reflect the way most anti-mining, anti-pipeline, and anti-development groups really feel about the hardworking people of northern Minnesota.
It disgusts me. There is no other way to put it.
Minnesota’s blue-collar workers, the men and women I am proud to fight for, deserve better. Every day they get up at the crack of dawn, go out into the elements and put their training to use working incredibly hard to create a better state for all of us. They make sure we all have the minerals and iron needed to make the products we all use. They are out there making sure we have safe roads to drive on, safe buildings to educate our kids in, and energy to power our society. Every day they are taking great care to do all of this while protecting the environment that we all live in and enjoy.
Only to be thought of by the very people who happily benefit from their hard work as “just sitting around waiting for somebody to give them a job so they can drink beer and not think about anything other than punching a timeclock”.
There is a war on American workers in this country, and that war is bi-partisan. Far right-wing low wage conservatives want to destroy unions so they can pay workers less for hard labor. And far left-wing wealthy environmental elitists like Rom and Carron are only concerned with themselves, perfectly content to have the people who carry their gear to the boundary waters struggle to feed and house a family making 10 bucks an hour.
Enough is enough. The disdain for Minnesota workers, and the belittlement of highly skilled work exhibited by environmental activists and low wage conservatives alike must be rejected by the majority of us. We must stand up, and stand strong for the workers that make our lives better every day.”