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Vol. 75/No. 42      November 21, 2011

2 Kentucky miners killed
amid bosses’ profit drive
Two miners, Samuel Lindsey, 23, and Darrel Winstead, 47, were the 27th and 28th miners killed this year in the U.S. amid the bosses’ drive for profit at the expense of workers’ safety. In coal mining alone the number of on-the-job fatalities so far this year is 17.

On October 28 the two men were crushed by a collapsed highwall that gave way when they were blasting, a surface mining method involving explosives, at Armstrong Coal’s Equality Mine in western Kentucky.

The mine was cited for nine safety violations in 2010 and six so far this year by the Mine Safety and Health Administration.

The men were contractors employed by the Mine Equipment and Mill Supply Company in Kentucky. As recently as July this year MSHA cited the company for safety violations that were considered likely to result in a serious injury or death. During the past two years the company has been cited 50 times for work at different coal mines and quarries.

Earlier in October another two miners were killed: Richard Coots at the Owico Energy Mine #1 in Letcher County in Kentucky and Charles McIntine at Consolidation Coal Company’s Shoemaker mine in Marshall County, W. Va.

The death of Lindsey and Winstead came just a few days after the United Mine Workers of America released its report on the Upper Big Branch Mine explosion in April last year in Montcoal, W. Va. Twenty-nine miners were killed, the worst U.S. mine disaster in 40 years. The report puts the total responsibility on the owners Massey Energy.

“Massey Energy must be held accountable for the death of the 29 miners,” stated the report. “Theirs is not a guilt of omission but rather, based on the facts publicly available, the Union believes that Massey Energy and its management were on notice of and recklessly tolerated mining conditions that were so egregious that the resulting disaster constituted a massive slaughter in the nature of an industrial homicide.”

Upper Big Branch was a nonunion mine, but workers asked the UMWA to represent them in the MSHA investigation into the disaster. The UMWA requested public hearings, but this was denied by MSHA, which instead conducted private interviews. Both union representatives and miners’ families were excluded.

According to MSHA, as of the end of October, 720 miners have been killed on the job in the U.S. since 2000—an average of 65 per year.
Related articles:
Coal miners challenge bosses’ racial discrimination in hiring
Roof fall at Illinois mine highlights need for union  
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