News Release

“What Killed the Miners? Profits Over Safety?”


Director of Labor Notes, Brenner said today: “The tragic deaths of at least 25 miners at the Upper Big Branch mine isn’t really an ‘accident.’ Workplace fatalities are rarely accidents. They often occur in places where inspection and enforcement of health and safety hazards in the workplace have been eroded over a long period. The mine’s owner, Massey, has a long record of safety violations, including 57 discovered just last month. Corporate restructuring and the destruction of unions in the mines have deprived workers of their advocate and watchdog in the workplace. Coupled with the erosion of federal workplace hazard oversight and enforcement under the Bush administration — which virtually gutted the Mine Safety and Health Administration — it’s led to a volatile situation in the industry.”

Biggers just wrote the piece “What Killed the Miners? Profits Over Safety?” The piece states: “All coal mining safety laws have been written in miners’ blood. My grandfather, who barely survived an explosion in a coal mine in southern Illinois, taught me this phrase.

“Massey, of course, has become infamous for its devastating mountaintop removal operations. … But the company also pleaded guilty to criminal violations for a January, 2006 fire at the Aracoma mine in Logan County, W.Va., which took the lives of two miners.”

Biggers is the author of Reckoning at Eagle Creek: The Secret Legacy of Coal in the Heartland and The United States of Appalachia.

For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167