The term, “Profits before People” continues to rear it’s ugly head. This time, in West Virginia, where 29 miners were killed in a coal mining accident.
The owner of the mine, Massey Energy was cited for 458 safety violations last year, with 50 of them listed as unwarrantable failures to comply — citations reserved under federal mining regulations for instances of willful or gross negligence.
Massey has paid over $1 million in fines in the past year alone – and has failed to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars more in fines that it is contesting.
The company’s CEO, Don Blankenship seems to have a “laissez-faire” attitude towards workers, as showcased in a memo addressing safety concerns in his mines. In the memo, he told his superintendents to put coal production first because, “T(his) memo is necessary only because we seem not to understand that the coal pays the bills.”
It’s corporate behavior, like the one displayed by Massey and it’s CEO that is the exact reason why unions are still needed in the workplace.
Could the tragedy been prevented? Maybe. Coal mining is one of the most dangerous occupations in the world. Unionization under the Employee Free Choice Act probably could have saved lives by demanding and enforcing safer standards on rogue corporations, such as Massey.
Maybe now, the EFCA can be taken seriously and the coal miners wouldn’t have died in vain!