Despite all the bogus work safe policies the profit-makers use to blame workers for job injuries and fatalities, our lives and limbs are the last thing bosses are concerned about. Workers who have sat through a company safety talk know this.
Mine fatalities are not due to accidents. Dangerous conditions are created by cold-blooded employer decisions to maximize productivity and profits. The Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) had cited the Sago mine for 273 safety violations in two years; in the last eight months, 16 of these had been deemed unwarrantable failures, meaning serious safety infractions the company was warned about fixing but flat out ignored. Similar conditions exist in mines across the United States. Coal companies routinely take the fines, cover up the violations with cosmetic measures, and get back to mining coal.
Mine roofs can be secured. Gunpowder-like coal dust and explosive gases can be neutralized. Worn and exposed electrical wires can be replaced. But such life-saving measuresthe lack of which is a major factor in this and other mine explosionstakes time away from the coal bosses production and costs money. So they do as little of it as possible. Then they try to pressure workers into accepting a false tradeoffjobs or safetyto let the company slide on safe conditions. Whether a mine, a meatpacking plant, or a subway track, the questions are the same.
Meanwhile, ICG coal barons brag to their investors about their union-free mines in the East. This underscores the heart of the matter: the need for unions to fight for workers interests. All improvements in safety conditions and protective legislation over the years have been due to one thing aloneworkers organizing unions and using them. Today, for example, the fight against hazardous conditions is at the center of the battle by workers in Huntington, Utah, to win recognition for the United Mine Workers of America at the Co-Op coal mine.
Despite all the vaunted MSHA citations at Sago, government officials refused to do what was needed to protect workersshut down the mine and force compliance with basic safety norms. This is because the government is not a neutral body. It is designed to serve the interests of a tiny class of billionaire families that rules the country through its ownership of the mines, factories, banks, and real estate. The employers have two main parties, the Democrats and Republicans; workers have none.
To confront the increasingly brutal conditions the bosses have in store for our class, at home and abroad, we need to organize a party of our owna labor party based on the trade unions, a political organization that will fight for the interests of all working people.
Bosses profit drive killed coal miners in W. Virginia
Trapped after explosion, 12 of 13 miners die
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