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Sago miners have the right to ask for UMWA representation in investigation

Source: UMWA

United Mine Workers of America President Cecil E. Roberts issued the following statement today:

"The International Coal Group (ICG) has objected to the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) representing the miners at the Sago mine as theinvestigation into the causes of this tragedy gets underway. What theirstatements fail to point out is that miners at the Sago mine have a right todesignate the UMWA as their representative, and the union has a right toparticipate in the investigation under federal law."

Federal regulations developed to implement the Mine Safety and Health Actpermit the UMWA to represent the miners at any mine if two or more of themdesignate us to represent them on safety issues. That has happened in thiscase. We are not 'manipulating' anything–we are fulfilling ourresponsibility under the MSHA regulations and we will continue to do so tothe best of our ability.

"ICG may not like the law, and they may not like the fact that their employees have designated the UMWA as their representative in thisinvestigation. But that does not change the fact that the law is what it is.Just because ICG doesn't like the law doesn't give them license to trample it."

The fact is that the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA)recognizes our right to be party to the investigation, as does the state ofWest Virginia, and they have both said so in writing. They do not view ourparticipation as interference in the investigation. The only party who does is ICG, leading one to ask: Why? What do they fear?

"It's interesting to note that the very first thing ICG did this morning aspart of the interview process that is taking place in Clarksburg was toattempt to get the identities of the miners who designated the UMWA as theirrepresentative. MSHA did not release their identities, nor will we. But thebigger questions are: Why do they need to know that, and what would they do with that information if they did know it?"It seems to us that ICG's priorities have shifted from seeking to determine the true cause of this accident and means for preventing similar occurrences,' to trying to find out which of their employees had the courage to want representation from an independent organization with 116 yearsexperience of working to improve safety and health in all of America'smines, whether we represent the workers or not.

"This investigation is about finding out the truth. If the company hasnothing to hide, it should favor an open investigation with all partiesparticipating fully."


Blogger Richard Myers said...

They've just found two more coal miners dead.

Ever get really, really fed up? The business article below did it for me.

It says-- even after continuing mining disasters-- that once again, nothing of significance will change.

Why? Apparently because coal is more important than the women and men who dig it.

The miners are safe enough, and we can't have "an undue financial burden on the operators at coal mines."

So i've just created a new email list, Sago Outrage:


If you're concerned that there's no justice for coal miners, please join.

Safety not seen costing coal co.'s after deaths [excerpt]
Fri Jan 20, 2006 5:03 PM ET
By Timothy Gardner
NEW YORK, Jan 20 (Reuters) - Coal companies may not have to pay much for additional safety measures following two accidents this month in West Virginia -- one fatal and the other in which two miners are missing -- according to experts.

Rescue teams searched smoky tunnels on Friday for two miners after a conveyor belt fire broke out a day earlier at a mine owned by Aracoma Coal Co., a subsidiary of Virginia-based Massey Energy Co.

The fire came weeks after a blast killed 12 miners at the Sago mine owned by International Coal Group Inc.

While the two accidents are reminders that mining can be dangerous, U.S. regulators are limited in the safety changes they can require companies to make.

Under the framework set up by Congress, federal regulators [at] the Mine Safety and Health Administration can propose new safety rules, but none that would create an undue financial burden on the operators at coal mines.

"We can't just say willy nilly you have to do this or that," said an MSHA official who did not want to be named.


Here's the first message, an overview of the Sago disaster:


Please join Sago Outrage:


best wishes,
richard myers
Denver, Colorado


Business article: http://today.reuters.com/investing/financeArticle.aspx?type=governmentFilingsNews&storyID=URI:urn:newsml:reuters.com:20060120:MTFH20334_2006-01-20_22-04-19_N20398:1

8:18 PM  

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