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Don't ask me why but I just have this gut feeling this is going to end on a positive note. Coal miners are some tough hombres so provided they still have air, they're still frosty and waiting for the cavalry. My thoughts and prayers to them and their families.
I pray they are alive too.But (and I'm sure I will be jumped all over by some on the right for saying this, but I will stand by it, word for word):This was (like the Sago mine and the Alma mine in West Virginia) a non-union operation, and combined with the failure by our government to enforce safety laws, has led to a lot of unsafe mines.Fact: the Crandell Canyon mine has received numerous violations, and in fact just last month after a repeat safety violation, finally were fined by the Federal government-- a whopping $60!! If mines which receive numerous violations are finally fined such small amounts, then the fines become simply a cost of doing business. For them to matter or enforcement to mean anything the fines or other penalties have to sting more than would the cost of making an upgrade.Two years ago, after the Sago and Alma #1 disasters, West Virginia Governor Joe Manchin did what the Federal government failed to do-- shut down every mine in his state until qualified inspectors could certify their safety.Would a union have prevented such accidents?I would say, 'yes.' quoting from a previous post I've made,Unions go to court and fight aggressively to have regulations enforced and safety improvements made, and the 'penalty' problem I mentioned earlier doesn't exist, because employers fear legal action by the union and/or strikes much more than they fear the relative inaction by the government. Four years ago, the union in Pennsylvania (remember that?) pushed for everything from a speedy rescue operation to overtime pay for the trapped men.The Pennsylvania case was the Somerset mine, and unlike at least two of the three we are talking about here occurred or was made worse because of a faulty map of underground shafts filled with water, not due to an actual safety violation.You may not like unions, especially hard nosed ones like the United Mine Workers. But the fact is, sometimes no one else looks out for these guys. The company often does not. The Federal Government (at least recently) does not, so if I had to go down that far and dig I'd for sure want the UMWA looking out for me because they do force owners of union mines to comply with safety standards, one way or another.
You may not like unions, especially hard nosed ones like the United Mine Workers. But the fact is, sometimes no one else looks out for these guys. The company often does not. The Federal Government (at least recently) does notThat's interesting since on a local level, these are heavily democratic states. Despite being a conservative, I am still a union supporter mainly from growing up in a union family as well as doing my stint in the steel mills in Northwest Indiana. I can say at least in the steel industry, many of the safety rules were OSHA instituted so I'm wondering why or how mining operations are exempt or don't have to follow them.
Eli, I did the math on a report off the news - an average of 1 violation every 3 days for the last 3 years...Question: do you know how these safety warnings are bundled into groups? I'm trying to figure out if we're talking about 3 yearly inspections with 100 violations each, semi-annual inspections with 50 violations each, etc.
Added: I'm just trying to understand how a mining group that gets, say... 25 violations every quarter over 3 years... is allowed to stay in business.
hoosier daddy:West Virginia has been historically Democratic, but over the past few years has trended towards Bush (though Democratic Governor Joe Manchin had approval ratings upwards of 80 percent after the way he handled the West Virginia mining crises a couple of years ago.) Utah, in contrast, is the most Republican state in America.Fen: Good question. And go back to what Manchin did-- he shut down every mine in his state until it got a clean bill of health from safety inspectors, and since then there have been no more mine accidents in West Virginia. There is no reason why any business with that kind of safety record should be in business, ever.
I'm just trying to understand how a mining group that gets, say... 25 violations every quarter over 3 years... is allowed to stay in business.I suspect because nobody politically connected complained. A large portion of the miners appear to be Hispanic immigrants -- probably illegals -- which isn't a group that American labor unions are interested in protecting. I would guess that those American workers who were concerned about safety problems just realized they'd be replaced with a cheaper Mexican if they complained too much. Plus, of course, they'd probably rather work in unsafe conditions than not work at all.
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