Arnold Miller

Charleston Gazette
December 23, 1977

Miller's Second Investiture Sedate by Earlier Standard
by Ann Hughey, Staff Writer

WASHINGTON - Arnold Miller's second swearing in Thursday as president of the 277,000-member United Mine Workers union was a sedate and elegant affair compared to the boisterous celebration described by those who attended the ceremonies when Miller first took over the union presidency five years ago.

The 15-minute ceremony for Miller and his running mates in late June's union election was held in the Federal Room of the Capital Hilton Hotel, where negotiations between the striking union and Bituminous Coal Operators Association were recessed Wednesday for the Christmas holidays. A reception for the more than 200 guests began at noon and ended at 2:30 p.m. Miller gave a brief speech which was punctuated by cheers from the audience. A mood of quiet jubilation prevailed as the newly installed officers shook hands with well wishers.

Miller was sworn in by Orville Robinette, president of Miller's home local, Cabin Creek Local 750. Robinette performed the same service in 1972.

Miller pledged "to continue to do what is necessary to make this union the greatest union in the world." Miller also said, "there is a lot of work to be done and there is a lot of criticism," adding that criticism is "a principle that is allowed in this union today."

MILLER SAID he wants miners to know that "I need their guidance" and that he welcomes "constructive critical thought."

Miller said he hopes to spend more time in the coalfields in his second term.

Lou Antal, the stocky outspoken president of UMW District 5 in Pennsylvania, served as master of ceremonies. Antal, who was among the first of the union dissidents to challenge the regime of former UMW President W.A. "Tony" Boyle, swore in UMW Secretary-Tresurer Bill Esselstyn, a 31-year old miner from Antal's district.

The ceremonies were tightly policed by union employees and there appeared to be confusion as the whether or not reporters would be allowed in. Ron Nathan, a Washington lawyer who is working on the current contract negotiations, said the occasion was not open to the press. The union employee led one reporter into the hallway until clearance could be obtained from UMW Vice President Sam Church.

Among the guests were Joseph A. "Chip"Yablonski, son of murdered union reformer Jock Yablonski, whose mantle Miller assumed in the Miners For Democracy movement which unseated Boyle.

Yablonski resigned his post as UMW general counsel in the fall of 1975. He now practices law in partnership with former UMW assistant Danny Edelman, and another layer, Charles Both.

Yablonski commented that he saw "an awful lot of new faces" Thursday.

Wayne Horvitz, head of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Services, and federal mediator Bill Hobgood attended. Harry Huge, a former union trustee of the UMW Health and Retirement Funds and now a member of the UMW bargaining team, said the only representative from the coal industry who was there was Merlin Breaux, a vice president of the Gulf Oil Co. which owns a coal company that recently signed a contract with the UMW in the West. "There's nobody from the BCOA," said Huge. A spokesman for the BCOA said no one from the BCOA has been invited.

MANY MEMBERS of the UMW International Executive Board were there, including Dick Weaver from Fairmont-based District 31 and Joseph Davidson from Beckley-based District 29. Davidson takes office Jan. 1.

Absent were two outgoing union officers, Secretary-Treasurer Harry Patrick and Vice President Mike Trbovich. Neither was invited.

Trbovich parted ways with Miller several years ago and supported Miller for Lee Roy Patterson in the most recent union election. Patrick, who broke openly with Miller last December, was himself a candidate for Miller's job.

Trbovich, reached by telephone at home in Pennsylvania, said Thursday the future of the union "doesn't look bright," Patrick, who would like to stay in Washington, said recently he had taken a physical exam to return to the mines and worked one shift before the strike began. He could not be reached Thursday. A child who answered the phone at his home in suburban Maryland said, "he went to Philadelphia for a job interview."


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