Sunday, April 18, 2010

Massey Mine Tragedy: Capitalism vs. Labor

The death of 29 miners in the Massey Energy Company's Upper Big Branch mine last week was not an accident, it was the result of a deliberate attempt by a corporation to sacrifice mine safegy, and the lives of mine workers, to make a profit. It is the latest in a long history of capitalism sacrificing the safety and lives of workers for corporate profit.

Despite a supposedly tougher federal law that passed in 2006 after the Sago, W. Va. mine explosion killed a dozen miners, Massey and other companies have been able to use the law as a shield to avoid tougher enforcement measures by appealing safety citations — and overwhelming the weak Mine Safety and Health Administration with a backlog of appeals.
Even though Massey has faced proposed fines nearing $2 million since 2005 and been cited over 1,300 times, it’s paid only a fraction — one-sixth — of the proposed fines. All told, according to the United Mine Workers of America, nearly 50 people have been killed at Massey mines in the last 10 years. In March alone, it was cited over 50 times for violations, many directly related to ventilation violations that allowed the build-up of explosive methane gas that played a major role in the killing of the 29 miners.

Lesson from Mine Tragedy: Union Busting = Death

Massey CEO Don Blankenship Fought Regulators
As CEO, "he has fought with mine regulators, unions, residents of his town and even his personal maid.
His company regularly appeals fines for safety infractions. He has personally gone into mines to persuade workers to abandon union organizing efforts. Massey is fighting lawsuits that claim it contaminated groundwater in Blankenship’s town. A maid supplied by a company she claimed was a Massey unit was forced to fight all the way to West Virginia’s highest court to collect unemployment benefits."

Blankenship was also a Teabagger, speaking out at Tea Party protests against government regulations, global warming, etc. Like other corporate backers of the Tea Party movement, Blankenship sounded like a working class populist railing against "big" government and unions, but he was actually an enemy of labor and the American working class.

Here is the union-busting Massey CEO Don Blakenship speaking at a Tea Party celebration of "American Labor":

It is a perfect example of how corporations are using the TEA PARTY movement to protect their own profits and financial interests over the well-being of the American working class.

In These Times: Will Massey Corp. Ever Face Justice?

No comments:

Post a Comment