After the worst coal mining accident in the US in 40 years, Massey Energy has denied its workers time off to go the funerals of the 29 miners killed.
You would think that after the April 5 coal mining accident at Massey Energy's Upper Big Branch coal mine that killed 29 miners in Montcoal, WV--the worst U.S. mining accident in 40 years-- and all the negative press about Massey's negligence of safety concerns, that Massey CEO Don Blankenship's heart (or at least his practices) would soften a bit. Apparently, not.
First, while the rescue efforts were still ongoing, Massey Energy made at least one employee go on shift when the fate of one of his relatives (who ended up being one of the victims of the accident) was still unknown. Now, Massey has denied time off for friends of the deceased who want to attend their funerals.
In the worst mining accident in 40 years, we get to see this company's true colors. Profit doesn't just matter more than people, it seems that people (even employees of the company) don't matter at all.
“They told my husband, ‘You’ve got a job to do and you’re gonna do it,’” the wife of one Massey miner told the Washington Independent’s Mike Lillis, in reference to his desire to attend the funerals of his friends who died in the blast. “What else are we gonna do?”
That's exactly the point for these workers -- they have very limited options and no bargaining power with Massey Energy.
The threat of job loss from Massey’s non-union mines, writes Lillis, “be it spoken or simply understood — has created a culture of fear in some corners of Southern West Virginia, where coal is the only real industry, and Massey is king of the hill.”
Of course, when it comes to climate and clean energy legislation, Massey Energy and its leader Don Blankenship claim to be opposed because they have the common citizen's pocketbook and quality of life in mind. But its hard to appreciate the benefits of a high quality of life when you or your friends/co-workers are dead.
Image Credit: truthout.org via flickr/CC license