Monday, April 12, 2010

Massy Coal Miners Organize to Fight Back As Their Cohorts Keep Dying; civil rights violated

Mining is now much less labor intensive than in days past. But it is still dangerous. I know this personally, because I have lived in two mining communities, Elko and Ely Nevada.

But miners don't die so often in these two Nevada gold mines. Safety is a concern with Barrick, Newmont, Anglo Gold  and most prominently by the union members who work the mines. These mines are the names that I grew up with. And never had there been a mining disaster in modern times at these Nevada mines like the coal mining disaster we all read about last with with Massy Mines in Virginia.

If you read about these events, it is apparent that miners keep dying in the Upper Branch Mine -- a mine that is repeatedly been fined for safety violations, three times as recently as two weeks before the tragedy. The mine sidewalls have cracked and collapsed. The ventilation system does not work properly.

Yet Massey and its belligerent, tea-bagging CEO Don Blankenship stonewalls repeatedly appeal and challenge Mine Safety and Health Administration findings, and routinely fail to pay penalties. So far Massey has paid only $2,676 of the over $188,000 in fines, writes Michael Berkowitz in today's Huffington Post:

"I remember as a kid," he said, "my dad strapping his gun on in the morning and going with John L. Lewis to organize in the mines."... I was a young professor. He was my student. I had been recruited to teach history at Pikeville College. He was an older African American student who had been recruited to play basketball. I thought I was going as part of the Civil Rights Movement and worked with unemployed and disabled Black and White coal miners until our Eastern Kentucky Welfare Rights Center was burned to the ground.
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Berkowitz continues in "Standing Up For Coal Miners; today's Huffington Post:
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At his Labor Day anti-union rally last year, Massey CEO Don Blankenship attacked the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA), claiming it "seeks power over coal miners." He mocked both "Washington politicians" and local elected officials who attempt to ensure miner safety, calling their efforts "as silly as global warming"


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