Mother Jones: “Pray for the Dead, Fight for the Living”

(10 am. – promoted by ek hornbeck)

More deaths for dollars this week as miners died for company greed.  Maximizing shareholder value on the lives of workers.

Mother Jones is often quoted as saying, “Pray for the Dead, Fight like hell for the Living.” The 25 miners who lost their lives in the Upper Big Branch mining disaster call us to both prayer and activism.

We must pray for the miners still missing, the miners who have lost their colleagues and the families of those killed. Let us pray for them individually and through our congregations. … We must also fight to protect those who work in dangerous workplaces like mines.

Interfaith Worker Justice

Richard Trumka of the AFL-CIO:

However, this incident isn’t just a matter of happenstance, but rather the inevitable result of a profit-driven system and reckless corporate conduct. Many mining companies have given too little attention to safety over the years and too much to the bottom line.

AFL-CIO: Massey Mine Cited for 450+ Safety Violations Before Deadly Blast

Also on Daily Kos:…

More after the fold.

From Interfaith Worker Justice, a reminder for those of various faiths to live up to the precepts of those faiths:

Our sacred texts say that God stands with the poor and disenfranchised.

If the miners at the Upper Big Branch mine had a union, yesterday’s tragedy might have been prevented.

Union mines are safer than non-union mines because the union plays a role in enforcing safety guidelines. Unfortunately, like many other workers, miners often fear losing their jobs or retaliation for joining a union. Miners and other workers need labor law reform, like the Employee Free Choice Act.

Interfaith Worker Justice

The compnay is a recidivist lawbreaker:  

The Massey Energy Co. mine, where 25 coal miners were killed and four remain unaccounted following an explosion yesterday, was assessed nearly $1 million in fines for safety violations last year, including violations concerning escape routes and ventilation, according to federal records and news reports.

The mine is owned by Massey and operated by its subsidiary, Performance Coal Co.

Early indications indicate the blast was caused by highly explosive methane gas leaking from sealed-off areas of the Upper Big Branch Mine in Raleigh County, W.Va.-the same cause of the 2006 Sago Mine disaster that killed 12 miners. New federal mine safety rules enacted after the Sago disaster included tougher new requirements for sealing off worked-out areas.

AFL-CIO: Massey Mine Cited for 450+ Safety Violations Before Deadly Blast

Massey is led by Donald Blankenship, who has spent millions to buy state supreme court justices and elect Republican Party toadies for him.  The blood of these people is on his hands:

Tony Oppegard, a lawyer and mine safety advocate from Kentucky, told The New York Times, “Massey’s commitment to safety has long been questioned in the coalfields.” The Times notes a 2006 internal memo from Massey CEO Donald Blankenship.

In the memo, Mr. Blankenship instructed the company’s underground mine superintendents to place coal production first.

This memo is necessary only because we seem not to understand that the coal pays the bills,” he wrote


AFL-CIO: Massey Mine Cited for 450+ Safety Violations Before Deadly Blast

Profits over safety.  This company deserves the death penalty.  

More from Interfaith Worker Justice

On Monday, 25 miners lost their lives in the Upper Big Branch mine disaster.

The Upper Big Branch mine is operated by the Performance Coal Company, a non-union company operated by Massey Energy. In the last 22 years, the company has committed over a thousand health and safety violations. Since the beginning of March 2010, the company has had 12 serious ventilation violations, including eight for failing to follow the ventilation plan. This company had a pattern of violating health and safety guidelines. Such patterns of violations kill and maim workers.

The miners who lost their lives in Monday’s tragedy call us to both prayer and activism. We must pray for the miners still missing, the miners who have lost their colleagues and the families of those killed. We must also let our legislators know that we will not stand for such blatant disregard for workers’ lives.

There are two ways we can fight for other miners and workers. Join me:

1. Send a letter to your senator today and ask him or her to spearhead efforts to reform the nation’s labor laws so workers can join labor unions without fear and harassment. Union mines are safer than non-union mines because the union plays a role in enforcing safety guidelines.

2. Send a letter to your congressional representative urging him or her to fully fund the Department of Labor’s budget requests for additional Wage and Hour Division and OSHA staff.

Go here and follow the linksInterfaith Worker Justice

Or Click here to send an email to your senators or representative

The penultimate words in this essay are those of my life-partner, effervescent, about the losses in the mines among many families over the years, including her own:

Actually I had one grandpa die in the mines, one died under the age of 40 from black lung, an uncle die in the early 50 s in a huge explosion, killed hundreds. My dad worked in the mines briefly before college. And so many great grands as immigrants who worked in WV, Pennsylvania through till Southern Illinois. Its incredibly sad, and probably could have been prevented.

Click here to send an email to your senators or representative

The final words belong to Mother Jones, and they are as true today as they were 100 years ago:

Pray for the Dead, Fight like hell for the Living.”


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    • TomP on April 7, 2010 at 7:38 pm
  1. fight like hell for the living is quite the mantra for all of our political struggles in this brave new world. Mother Jones was not ‘center left’ she was a champion of human rights, workers rights. For those of us who must live and die under the thumb of those who now are in power and expect not only our obedience but support I say forget about it.. I will contact my representatives but to tell you the truth they will duly note my concern and proceed to pump weatherization, wealth creation, drill baby drill and clean coal and using their power to make Massey and co. more profitable and call them the solution that is pragmatic and the one that keeps us ‘economically competitive’. How many straws does it take to break this camels back? Why do the unions cave like the faux progressives when push comes to shove? Trumpka is great verbally but seems like the rest of those with any power too willing to settle with the CW and the powers that be, for either the dead or the living. sorry to be negative but coming on the heels of drill baby drill this is insane. btw don’t let them tell you that most people are the pig ignorant minority who think thew world is flat. They really aren’t.      

  2. From the March 2010 Electric Power Monthly of the US  DOE

    for the month of December 2009

    Year to date, total net generation (for 2009) was down 4.1 percent from 2008 levels.

    Year-to-date, (for 2009) coal-fired plants contributed 44.7 percent of the Nation’s electric power. Nuclear plants contributed 20.2 percent, while 23.3 percent was generated at natural gas-fired plants. Of the 1.0 percent generated by petroleum-fired plants, petroleum liquids represented 0.7 percent, with the remainder from petroleum coke. Conventional hydroelectric power provided 6.9 percent of the total, while other renewables (biomass, geothermal, solar, and wind) and other miscellaneous energy sources generated the remaining 3.9 percent of electric power (Figure 2).

    In late 2009, the nation was sitting on a big coal stockpile

    Total electric power sector coal stocks increased between December 2008 and December 2009 by 28.4 million tons. Stocks of bituminous coal (including coal synfuel) increased by 38.7 percent, or 25.5 million tons between December 2008 and December 2009 (from 65.8 to 91.3 million tons). Subbituminous coal stocks grew by 2.4 million tons between December 2008 and December 2009 (from 91.2 to 93.6 million tons). December 2009 was the 16th consecutive month that coal stocks were higher than the same month in the prior year.

    This was because of the sour economy, which was depressing industrial demand for electricity, per this report.  Heating use stayed about the same or went up slightly because none of the 9 climate regions that NOAA studied were warmer than normal for Dec 2009.

    Consumption of coal for power generation in Dec 2009 was down 0.9 % compared to Dec 2008.

    The average price paid for coal in December 2009 was about the same price paid in November 2009 and December 2008. The December 2009 receipts of coal (75.1 million tons) decreased 2.5 percent when compared with November 2009 and 15.8 percent when compared with December 2008. The demand for coal receipts has been dampened by large stockpiles (203 million tons at the end of November 2009 – the highest level ever recorded) and by lower demand for coal-based generation due to the slow economy.

    As you know, it being spring, the heating demand for fuels for electricity cycles downward at this time of year, then cycles upward in late summer/early fall.   The depressed economy, plus lower demand coupled with a glut of mined coal, led to prices for coal remaining the same from the previous year.

    And the reason I’m talking about this is that this mine, if it were more marginable than others, or if the owner was greedier and more careless, the owner would have been under more economic pressure to produce his coal a lot more cheaply and that would have included ignoring mine safety.

    And we need to tell these Federal regulators who are looking at things like mine ventilation, that they can’t just expect to sacrifice humans for this current “feature” of our sour economy.

    And when we talk about transitioning to alternative fuels or going to carbon capture technology (whether or not it’s feasible, large scale) we need to make sure that people who are on the front lines of digging this stuff out of the ground, now, are not thrown to the wolves.

    • dkmich on April 7, 2010 at 11:39 pm

    life insurance policies on people like this.  Win/win.  

  3. Thought I’d make my first post on DD in here.

    This is a tragedy that shows Corporate greed still rules, at the most reprehensible level.

    I still have Mother Jones Magazines from the 60’s-70’s that I have kept. They were an incredible resource back then as they are now.

    Waves to all and esp. ARC~~~ (been a while)


  4. Oh, what the hell, just “collateral damage,” you know, like our soldiers, the innocent citizens they kill, the people who die for want of health care insurance, malnutrition, etc., yep, just all collateral damage, while the vulture pigs keep marchin’ to the banks that control the country.


    West Virginia, a most beautiful State, and, yet, one of the most neglected States, if not the MOST neglected State of all.  Apart from small businesses, there is little industry (and that’s always been the case) and, in so many cases, coal mining is all there is between starvation and non-starvation.  There’s little choice for these souls than to go down in the mines each day, risking their lives on a daily basis, while they do as the “massa” tells them to do.  No regulations!  Sounds so much like what goes around the country, whether on Wall Street, or some beautiful backwoods’ country, being ruined, environmentally, and treating their workers like slaves.  Blankenship should be shot, but he won’t be, no more than the defense industry pigs, the Wall Street pigs, the health insurance and pharma pigs — nope, they always get off scott free.  NO REGULATIONS!  

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