Despite the intense media glare focusing on the BP man made disaster engulfing the Gulf, the leaders of Massey Energy haven’t been able to slink away unnoticed. Thanks in part to your efforts, they are being held accountable for their roles in the preventable deaths of the 29 West Virginia miners in April.
So far, over 14,800 American Rights at Work activists have signed our petition to fire Massey CEO Don Blankenship (Sign here if you haven’t yet). And over 1,000 people showed up at the company’s headquarters in Richmond, VA, to protest in person.
There hasn’t been an immediate and total victory – Blankenship and other Massey leaders haven’t been fired or arrested – but there’s been amazing progress towards accountability so far. Read more »
As if more evidence was needed that unregulated corporate behavior hurts working families and destroys our environment, now comes news that BP compared its workers to the ‘Three Little Pigs’ in calculating the dollar value of their lives.
For BP to value their workers like farm animals is the clearest illustration yet that only the force of law can protect working people. BP executives had a chance to change after the Texas City explosion that killed 15 workers five years ago. Yet 11 more BP workers died last month in the Deepwater Horizon explosion – now spewing countless gallons of crude oil into the Gulf of Mexico – all for want of proper safety equipment and strong oversight by the federal government.
We’re not making it up, people: mineworkers who belong to unions have more freedom to raise safety concerns without fearing retaliation. That’s according to workers who testified at this week’s congressional hearing on the Upper Big Branch disaster. As one worker put it, “As a union person we have the right to refuse to do work we think is unsafe,” whereas at a non-union mine like Upper Big Branch, “if you refuse, they tell you to get your bucket and go home.” And if workers quit because of safety concerns? They’d be barred from working within a 90-mile radius of a Massey mine.
Today is Workers Memorial Day, on which we remember the thousands of men, women, and children who are injured or killed on the job. The April 5, 2010 disaster at the Upper Big Branch mine in West Virginia, in which 29 miners lost their lives, makes this year’s observance especially poignant.
But while that event shocked and galvanized the nation, it was hardly unique. Just days before, an explosion at the Tesoro Refinery in Anacortes killed six workers in Washington. In February, three workers were lost in a gas explosion at the Kleen Energy Plant in Middleton, Connecticut. Every day in the United States, an average of 14 workers die as a result of workplace injuries.
There’s a word we can use to describe the majority of these horrible incidents: Preventable.
As our friends at Interfaith Worker Justice point out, “Mother Jones is often quoted as saying, ‘Pray for the Dead, Fight like hell for the Living.’” While all of us continue to hold the victims of the Upper Big Branch mining disaster in our thoughts and prayers, we are also renewing our commitment to stand up for workers’ rights. As has been widely reported, the mine had been repeatedly cited for safety violations: