UMWA in Action
Bush budget cuts to MSHA coal enforcement â€œabsurd,â€ UMWAâ€™s Roberts says
February 4, 2008
United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) International President Cecil E. Roberts issued the following statement today:
Â Â Â â€œWith his action to cut the Mine Safety and Health Administrationâ€™s (MSHA) budget dealing with enforcement of safety and health legislation in coal mines by $10 million, President Bush has told Americaâ€™s coal miners that he doesnâ€™t care about making the improvements so clearly needed to keep them safe and healthy on the job.
Â Â Â â€œSince the Bush administration took office, 232 people have been killed in Americaâ€™s coal mines, 82 of them since Jan. 1, 2006. The nation watched as disaster after disaster rocked the coalfields over the last two years...at Sago, Aracoma, Darby, and then Crandall Canyon just six months ago.
Â Â Â â€œPeople all over Americaâ€“indeed, all over the worldâ€“asked: â€˜How can this happen? How can it be that American coal miners are still getting killed on the job?â€™
Â Â Â â€œThe answer is clear. Miners are being killed because of neglect on the part of their government. And while that neglect has been mounting, some coal operators have taken advantage and blatantly ignored safety and health laws and regulations at their whim.
Â Â Â â€œMandatory inspections of coal mines arenâ€™t getting done because MSHA doesnâ€™t have enough trained, qualified inspectors to do them. Fines for over 4,000 of those who did get caught violating the law werenâ€™t assessedâ€“and even when they are assessed, they frequently arenâ€™t collected.
Â Â Â â€œA rational person would think that solving these critical issues would require an improvement in funding for the federal governmentâ€™s enforcement watchdog, so that MSHA would have the resources it needs to do its job. But that kind of thinking is apparently in short supply in the White House these days.
Â Â Â Â Â â€œPresident Bushâ€™s absurd MSHA budget cuts make it even more clear to us that we need a new presidentâ€“one who understands the day-to-day needs of working men and women and who will fight for healthy and safe workplaces for all Americans. On January 20, 2009, we fervently hope Americans will get such a president. The UMWA is going to fight like hell to make sure we do.â€
United Mine Workers