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Fighting war on coal miners

September 9, 2012
Weirton Daily Times

To the editor:

The coal companies want us to believe there is a war on coal? How about a war on coal miners?

Recently, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney appeared in Eastern Ohio to bolster claims that the Obama Administration is waging a war against those men and women who work in the coal industry. Pictures show Romney flanked by miners with additional hundreds in attendance.

Now the truth - Murray Energy had the miners bused in. Their mine was closed and they were forced to attend, without pay.

Murray Energy CFO Rob Moore told WWVA-AM's David Blomquist that the charges were untrue.

"There were no workers that were forced to attend the event, we had managers that communicated to our work force that the attendance at the Romney event was mandatory, but no one was forced to attend the event." Attendance was mandatory but no one was "forced" to attend? Is there another definition of mandatory, Mr. Moore?

Continuing his out-of-touch reasoning, Moore said, "We're talking about an event that was in the best interest of anyone that's related to the coal industry. I do not believe that missing an eight-hour day, when you put it into perspective, when you think about how critical - critical - this next election is, and how critical it is that we get someone in this office that supports coal - to give up eight hours for a career, I just don't believe that there is anything negative about that." Shouldn't the miners have decided for themselves if attendance and loss of pay were in their best interest? One assumes Moore lost no pay that day.

Employees also stated that letters have circulated containing names of employees who did not attend or donate to political events. Blacklists and intimidation, Mr. Moore? Is this legal?

Fact: Murray Energy has donated more than $900,000 to Republican candidates in the last two years alone yet closes union mines claiming they "can't afford" to operate them.

It gets better.

I was unable to find what privately owned Murray Energy pays its high-level employees, but judging from the salaries of other coal honchos, one could speculate that it's many times more than it pays its miners. Arch Coal CEO Steven Leer's compensation increased 58 percent to $6.6 million over 2011's level. Peabody Energy CEO Gregory Boyce is "worth" $30.66 million. Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship received over $13 million the same year 29 of his miners were killed at Upper Big Branch. A few million dollars less per boss could pay a lot of union wages. It could also pay for the safety requirements these companies ignore to the detriment of the people who work for them.

War on coal? The Obama administration's enforcement of safety regulations and clean air and water standards that benefit us all versus greedy coal operators who hold a job like a sword over a miner's head with no concern for their lives, their living or our environment? Who's the enemy here?

Sharon Davis Green


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