(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.
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.
Also on Daily Kos: http://www.dailykos.com/story/…
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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.”