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United Mine Workers call for President Bush to withdraw nomination of Richard Stickler as head of Mine Safety and Health Adminis

January 24, 2006

United Mine Workers of America International President Cecil E. Roberts sent a letter to President George W. Bush today, calling for the withdrawal of the nomination of Richard Stickler as Assistant Secretary for Mine Safety and Health.

"Congress determined in 1969 that the coal industry could not and should not police itself in matters of safety and health in America's coal mines," Roberts said. "Yet today the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) is riddled with former coal company executives. The foxes are guarding the henhouse, and the confirmation of Mr. Stickler would make matters worse for coal miners."

Roberts pointed out that the very first line in the Coal Mine Health and Safety Act says, "The first priority and concern of all in the coal or other mining industry must be the health and safety of its most precious resource--the miner." "It doesn't say the first priority should be higher profits, it doesn't say the first priority should be increasing production"“it says the first priority must be the health and safety of the miner," Roberts said.

"Yet we now have a situation where the very people who are supposed be in charge of enforcing mine safety laws used to be sitting in coal company offices figuring out how to skate around safety regulations to increase production and profits," Roberts said. "Mr. Stickler is a prime example of that.

"America's coal miners don't need a coal company executive in charge at MSHA," Roberts said. "We need a person who understands safety from the miner's point of view, and is committed to making the health and safety of the miner the agency's first priority once again."

The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee is scheduled to take up the nomination of Mr. Stickler on January 31. Roberts said that if the nomination is not withdrawn by that time, the UMWA will be prepared to testify in opposition to his confirmation.

Click here for text of letter. (PDF)

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