Once again, a study has shown that unionized coal mines are not only safer places to work than nonunion mines, but that union miners produce more coal. The study, by SNL Energy, found that in 2013 unionized mines in northern and central Appalachia produced about 94,091 tons of coal per injury versus 71,110 in nonunion mines, despite research suggesting that unionized miners are more likely to report injuries that have occurred on the job.
For those of you who have been following the Massey Energy story, the Mine Workers (UMWA) passed along this news yesterday: U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin announced that a federal grand jury today returned an indictment charging Donald L. Blankenship, former chief executive officer of Massey Energy Co., with four criminal offenses. The indictment charges Blankenship with conspiracy to violate mandatory federal mine safety and health standards, conspiracy to impede federal mine safety officials, making false statements to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and securities fraud.
For you labor history buffs, Upworthy has a special treat. As part of the Workonomics series that examines the importance of collective action and economic policy that lifts working people and shines a light on inequality, labor history now has its own miniseries.
This Veterans Day, I’ll be thinking about a conversation I had with Cecil Roberts, president of the Mine Workers (UMWA), when he was in Paducah, Ky., for Labor Day. Roberts, a combat veteran of the Vietnam War, says it’s time for unions to take back two big issues the labor haters have hijacked from our movement: “The Bible and patriotism.”
You don't have to be a doctor at Johns Hopkins to know black lung disease when you see it. I know firsthand because I've seen it. I've seen it kill my father, my grandfathers and uncles. They were all coal miners who breathed coal dust for years until their scarred lungs could no longer work and they suffocated.
Last week, after nearly a year of protests, rallies, marches and court battles, the Mine Workers (UMWA) reached an agreement with Peabody Energy to cover future health care benefits for the retired coal miners affected by the bankruptcy of Patriot Coal. Patriot was spun off from Peabody in 2007 but saddled with the benefit obligations for former Peabody miners.
Today in The American Prospect, Harold Meyerson explores how the UMWA staged “a brilliant and innovative campaign that has ended in a stunning victory.”
After nearly a year of protests, rallies, marches and court battles demanding “Fairness at Patriot,” a settlement has been reached that will help cover future health care benefits for the retired coal miners affected by the bankruptcy of Patriot Coal.