Illustration via William Isom, II


The Historical Roots of May Day

May Day  originally commemorated Chicago's 1886 the Haymarket Massacre, when, during a general strike for the eight hour workday, an unknown person threw a dynamite bomb at police as they dispersed a public meeting, and police fired on workers, killing several demonstrators and resulting in the deaths of several police officers, largely from friendly fire.

 "Mayday," was also used as a distress signal for aviators because it approximates the French term "m'aider", meaning "come help me!"

 May Day 2012:  Occupy Movement Calls for a National Strike

This past winter, police aggression against even peaceful demonstrators, recalling Haymarket.  Occupy Oakland especially  brought this to light during  during the attack on Iraqi war veteran Scot Olsen.   Now Janet Weil, a San Francisco activist with Code Pink has written a manifesto. "Why I Strike"   in support of Occupy Wall Street's call for a general strike May 1.

Occupy Appalachia Joins Strike, Protests USB's Role in Destroying Our Mountains

Closer to home, Occupy Appalachia has called for May Day actions against Swiss-owned wealth management services company Swiss Banking giant UBS  which funds and provides investment support and advisory services for ALL companies engaged in mountaintop removal coal mining:  Arch Coal Inc, Alpha Natural Resources, Patriot Coal and James River Coal Company.

UBS  Fails to Live Up to Its Own Guidelines

  In UBS' 2011 Annual Report [p 62] it states:

"we decided to further strengthen our environmental and social risk management (including human rights) by identifying controversial activities where we will not do business, or only do business under stringent pre-established guidelines. Therefore we will not knowingly provide financial services to corporate clients, nor will we purchase goods or services from suppliers, where the use of proceeds, primary business activity, or acquisition target involves the following environmental and social risks: Extractive industries, heavy infrastructure, forestry and plantations operations that risk severe environmental damage."

"HANDS OFF APPALACHIA!" points out  that the company should bring its actions in line with its own annual report, and stop funding mountaintop removal coal mining.

Coal's Assault on Dissent

While Atlantic Magazine is asking if coal is doomed:  the companies have actually continued their assault on protest, "hoping to combine the results of several recent court cases to significantly narrow the ability of citizen groups to block new mountaintop-removal mining permits in federal court,"as Ken Ward, Jr. noted.

Lawyers for Alpha Natural Resources outlined their strategy last week during a hearing before U.S. District Judge Robert C. Chambers, who is considering citizen group challenges to at least two permits issued by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Targets for Occupy UBS:

Targets for Occupy UBS include East TM (Chattanooga, Cookeville, Johnson City, Kingsport, Knoxville, Oak Ridge); Southwest Virginia (10 South Jefferson Street, Suite 1050, Roanoke VA 24011; Western North Carolina (Ashville) and Kentucky (Lexington).
138 Charlotte Street, Asheville NC 28801

Invitation for Others to Suppport Hands Off Appalachia

If you cannot attend an action, Occupy Appalachia organizers are asking that you call or email the UBS branches and the headquarters and ask that they change their official policy on MTR:

Knoxville, TN
Steven L. Meadows, Executive Director

Johnson City and Kingsport, TN
423-928-7144 (Johnson City)
423-246 7111 (Kingsport)
David B. Arnold, Vice President - Investments, Johnson City & Kingsport Branches david.arnold@ubs.com

Oak Ridge, TN
Bryan Mayo, Vice President - Investments, Oak Ridge Branch

Chattanooga, TN
Jefferson B. Cronan CFP, Executive Director, Chattanooga Branch

Cookeville, TN
John Stephen Boots, Account Vice President, Cookeville Branch

Roanoke, VA
540-344 5571
Paul Higgins, Branch Manager

Lexington, KY
859-269 6900
859-335-8100 (fax)
Matthew Fresca, Branch Manager

Asheville, NC
828-258 9860
Jerome Hornowski, Branch Manager

Right now haven't received the email contacts for the following. I'll add them, if I hear back from the organizers...

Washington, DC Branch

Headquarters NYC

Headquarters New Jersey

Other Banks Are Complicit Both in Mining and Funding Coal-Fired Power Plants

The latest report on the reputational and financial risks of coal just released by RAN and Sierra Club omits USB, but ranks large banks as follows:

Mountaintop Removal Grade Coal Fired Power Plant Grade
Bank of America C- D
Citi C- D
GE Capital D D
Goldman Sachs F D (Cogentrix) / F (Other)
JP Morgan Chase D+ D
Morgan Stanley C- D
Wells Fargo D D

EPA Has Failed to Protect Public

 April 4, more than three years after the TVA ash spill,   EJ, filed  against the EPA on behalf of 11 environmental and public health groups  (Appalachian Voices, Chesapeake Climate Action  Network, Environmental Integrity Project)  "to undertake long overdue action to address the serious and widespread risks that unsafe disposal of coal combustion waste or "coal ash" poses to human health and the environment."

Some in Congress Would Like to Prevent the EPA from Protecting Public Health

Meanwhile, David McKinley’s (R-WV)  successfully attached a clause to the House transportation bill which would bar the EPA from setting enforceable safeguards for toxic coal ash.  It's another case of  favoring  power plants and other big polluters.  Supporters for the amendment included US Chamber of Commerce, the American Coal Council, the United Mine Workers, utility companies like Duke Energy, and the American Road & Transportation Builders Association. Transportation Secretary Ray  LaHood--a Republican member of the House before he was appointed by Obama in 2009-- called the bill, H.R. 4348, a "big Christmas tree..."Look what they've loaded it up with... Keystone, coal ash — none of it has anything to do with transportation."

Currently industry dumps toxic waste into unlined and unmonitored ponds and landfills that can poison our waters and our health.   EJ states that "At least 185 coal ash dump sites have contaminated water supplies, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency admits that 54 dumps, a major spill will likely cause loss of human life."  [504  was a typo according to EJ's Lisa Evans].

In fact in nearby Giles County, the ash the unlined ash dump is on the banks of the scenic New River upstream from public drinking  and the Concerned Citizens of Giles County are in the process of suing the developer Giles Partnership for Excellence.

May Day is the Time for the Public to Take a Stand

In this this of increasing partisan divide and economic disparity, maybe it's time to return to both of the latter meanings. As Nancy L. Mancias, co-founder of Code Pink wrote on April 26, "Many people have suffered and died over the past decade of economic injustice and wars. Let's remember the words of labor organizer Mary 'Mother' Jones, who lived in Chicago in 1886: "Pray for the dead, and work like hell for the living!'"