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Coal miners banding together.

Staff Writer
Posted on 2/12/2016, 9:53 AM

Numerous coal mine layoffs have occurred throughout all of Southern Illinois the past few years.

Coal companies hire and then "let go." But something is different about this last batch of layoffs that has spiked a whole lot of camaraderie among the coalminers, not just locally but nationwide.

Bob Sandidge and his wife have been members of the coal mining industry for many years, working for several different companies in eight different states. The two, who live in Harrisburg, have noticed a need in the last couple of months. After much discussion Saturday, they decided to do something.

"We were talking about how bad it is getting then my wife decided we should start a Facebook page," Sandidge said.

The page was created Saturday evening and by Sunday morning has already grown to almost 1,000 members. The page "Coal Miner's Movement 2016" now has over 14,000 likes in just under a week.

"Now that it is going, we can't stop it," Sandidge said. "We have to keep the momentum going."

Local and state government officials are taking notice of the page. Dale Fowler, Harrisburg mayor and state Senate candidate, has pledged his support to the cause. As well as state Rep. Brandon Phelps.

"We have to stop this bleeding wound and get this coal back in there," Fowler said.

Not too long after the weekend ended, Sandidge noticed that the page had caught the attention of people from as far west as Utah and as far east as West Virginia, some as far south as Georgia.

"We called different political offices, after Phelps' call and received the standard 'We will get back with you' message," Sandidge said.

The movement now even has a sponsor out in Washington who is helping the movement gain momentum.

"This effects everyone in a community, not just the coal miners and their families," Sandidge said. " We just want a level playing field with other energy sources."

Sandidge is urging individuals to go check out their page on Facebook and answer three questions that are listed in a post. The need 1300 responses to the questions before they can make any movement in Washington.

"Anyone who has been effected by this, we need you," Sandidge said. "Don't just like the page, we need your comments."

Sandidge is certain that it is everyone standing together that will change the minds in Washington. That uniting for this cause will determine the outcome for our communities.

"Anyone who has suggestions on how to help move us forward," Sandidge said. "Help us give them (coal miners) their security, families and jobs back."