Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Union Busting Strip Mining Magnate Don Blankenship Made $19.7 Million in “Blood Money”

“Blood money if you ask me,” declared United Steelworkers President Leo Gerard, who grew up in a mining environment, went to the company school, shopped in the company store, and remembers mine whistles blaring out of time, and the rush of blood thorugh his veins as he wondered if it was his father’s shift, or his friend’s father whose turn it was to be down in that hole.

Don Blankenship, CEO of Massey, prides himself on placing profits ahead of safety in his union-busting mining operation which has accumulated more than 3,000 safety violations. To Blankenship, these are the costs of doing business. Of $2.2 million in fines assessed, he is contesting more than $1.4 million, and has delinquent fines totaling $246,320.

He shrugged off the fines, saying “we don't pay much attention to the violation count.” Of course not, as long as you can run a criminally unsafe, union-busting operation that, rather than invest in safety upgrades and maintain the highest workplace OSHA standards, buys judgeships, raises money for Republican obstructionism and deregulation, and underwrites the Teabaggers.

Here is this predator capitalist in his own words. Hateful, outrageous, despicable, bigoted, and ignorant speech is protected by the Constitution. Criminal negligence bordering on murder (as a matter of law and not opinion) are not:

The time has come for the Justice Department to stand up for long-suffering mine workers throughout America, but particularly in West Virginia, and bring this bastard to his knees. And it’s high time the Senate took action on stricter safety legislation for coal workers. The House bill has languished in the Senate too long, first on GWB’s veto threat and then under the heel of Republican union-busting obstruction, just waiting for another tragedy to happen, as long as it’s not on their watch.

Well, it’s happened. The Republicans who passed on it have blood on their hands. Are you satisfied, Republican deregulators? Democrats control the Senate; there are no more excuses not to pass this bill NOW.
Update: Labor Secretary Hilda has appointed a special team of investigators to “evaluate all aspects of the accident, including possible causes and the operator's compliance with federal health and safety standards. The team will issue a formal report on its findings and conclusions.”
It’s a start. It won’t bring back the lives of those miners needlessly lost to Blankenship’s craven criminal neglect, but it may pave the way to justice in this matter and safe, humane working conditions for all mine workers in America.

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