Fight like hell for the living

Cross-posted from

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:

Massey Energy is actively contesting millions of dollars of fines for safety violations at its West Virginia coal mine where disaster struck yesterday afternoon…This deadly mine has been cited for over 3,000 violations by the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA), 638 since 2009…

Not coincidentally, the Upper Big Branch mine was non-union, and Massey Energy, which owns the mine, is notoriously anti-union. (The company is also um, “politically active:” In 2004, its CEO essentially bought a state supreme court seat.) Steelworkers President Leo Gerard said yesterday that if these workers had been union members, they would have had more recourse to refuse unsafe work—and that perhaps if the company were empowering its workers, instead of fighting the union, it could spend more time focusing on safety.

But companies aren’t going to do it on their own. Massey CEO Don Blankenship is still denying the mine was unsafe. As AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, a former Mine Workers (UMWA) president and third generation coal miner, said yesterday,

…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.

That’s why workers need two things: first, strict enforcement from the Mine Safety and Health Administration and second, the real, protected right to join a union, so they can have a voice on the job. Let’s fight like hell to make that happen.

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This entry was posted on Wednesday, April 7th, 2010 at 4:57 pm and is filed under General. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

2 Responses to “Fight like hell for the living”

  1. […] Support Us « Fight like hell for the living […]

  2. […] of Don Blankenship, whose opposition to organizing and profits-over-people mentality lead to the deaths of 29 miners last month. We’re living in the age where Wal-Mart, the biggest private employer in the […]

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