a recent mine explosion killed 29 miners in wv, and the two that survived were horribly injured. it's the worst explosion in the coal fields since 1970, and the horrible thing is, both massey and the government knew that mine was unsafe. the mine had been cited many times, yet it was never shut down. miners still had to show up to work, even though they knew it might not be safe.
risk their lives or risk their livelihoods.
in a recent article, which also said massey did not give fellow miners time off to attend the funerals of their deceased co-workers, had this quote from a an unemployed underground miner:
“Everybody knew that mine was about to blow up,I told my friend not to work there. That was three months ago; he worked two months and quit. If you check the work records, you’ll see that a lot of experienced miners left the mine because the conditions just got worse and worse as they ramped up production.”
it just seems unfathomable that a company would put people, their people, at risk in order to get more coal. i guess maybe it shouldn't surprise me, the history of coal says that's exactly what coal companies do. and after all, history has a way of repeating its self. but why? why does such a horrible, violent, exploitative, deathly history have to repeat its self and how many times can it repeat before it stops happening?
i can't say i understand the struggles of a miner, and i won't pretend to. i also can't make claim that i understand what it means to have to work against so much in order to provide for my family, to risk my life in order to maintain a job that pays the bills. i'm fortunate enough to not know that first hand. but while i acknowledge that, i still cant come up with a situation in my head that i would risk my life in order to further the profits of some company that has been violating my people for generations.
i wish i could say their lives were not lost in vain. that something positive will come out of it, for other miners in the future. i wish i can say that people would begin to see the lives of miners as part of how we keep our lights on in this country, and acknowledge that to be priceless. beyond priceless. it's not even an externality really, it's so far beyond what you could ever think about including in the 'cost of business.' peoples lives.
but i can't. maybe this time it will be different, but in all likelihood, history will keep repeating itsself. companies, like massey, will continue to be able to murder their workers in name of profit and cheap coal, while 'our' government continues to look the other way, and let it happen.
it's well said that mine companies saw a mule as worth more than a miner. i guess that saying proves true today, but this time it's not mules, but pure profits that are worth more than miners.