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Rachel Maddow: Taking the Human Cost Out of the Cost of Mining Coal

Crooks & Liars- By Heather Thursday Apr 08, 2010 9:00am

Rachel Maddow recounts the horrid safety record of Massey Energy and how the CEO of Massey Energy spent over $3 million to get his choice of Supreme Court Justice elected in West Virginia, who as Rachel Maddow noted, then ruled in Blankenship’s favor for his company and their safety violations, surprise, surprise.

Rachel talked to Jeff Biggers, author of Reckoning at Eagle Creek: The Secret Legacy of Coal in the Heartland about the core of the problems with the coal mining industry which is more worried about profit than the worker’s lives. As Biggers pointed out, virtually all of the major accidents in the coal industry have taken place in non-union mines, and he pointed out that Massey Industry is not only one of the worst companies for their safety record, but also for “breaking up the unions in the 1980’s and 1990’s” and added this about what kind of difference unions make when it comes to mining safety.

BIGGERS: You know, that‘s a wonderful point to make. Virtually, all the major accidents and disasters have taken place in non-union mines. And really, Massey Energy is infamous not only for their state of violations both with underground and but also surface mining, but the fact that they really were part and parcel of being aggressive about breaking up the unions in the 1980s and the 1990s. And this is ultimately what we‘re paying for.

You know, in the old days, Rachel, or in a union mine, you had union fire bosses who came in, who pointed out the violations. And it was a brotherhood to really make sure that those violations were corrected and you have a safer mine, because those were members of the union that were in there.

Today, we have less than 20 percent of our coal miners, estimated, who actually are with the United Mine Workers or any sort of union. And ultimately now, we‘re paying the price. You know, that‘s the problem. The coal companies and their representatives who do any kind of inspections outside of federal inspectors, they see regulations as just obstacles to production. They don‘t realize that regulations are about human lives. It‘s about protecting American citizens and the coal miners.

Full transcript via MSNBC below the fold.

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