Ohio Coal Miners Forced to Attend Romney Speech while Losing a Day’s PayPosted: August 28, 2012
Conservative values on display: Via Mother Jones, The Cleveland Plain Dealer reported today that employees of the Century Mine in Ohio were told that attendance at an August 14 speech by Mitt Romney was “mandatory.” They couldn’t work that day because the mine shut down to accommodate the Romney campaign’s “safety and security” concerns.
The Pepper Pike company that owns the Century Mine told workers that attending the Aug. 14 Romney event would be both mandatory and unpaid, a top company official said Monday morning in a West Virginia radio interview.
A group of employees who feared they’d be fired if they didn’t attend the campaign rally in Beallsville, Ohio, complained about it to WWVA radio station talk show host David Blomquist. Blomquist discussed their beefs on the air Monday with Murray Energy Chief Financial Officer Rob Moore.
Moore told Blomquist that managers “communicated to our workforce that the attendance at the Romney event was mandatory, but no one was forced to attend.” He said the company did not penalize no-shows.
Maybe not, but workers who were there said that managers called the roll and noted who attended and who did not.
Moore said he didn’t see anything negative in attending Romney’s campaign appearance with U.S. Sen. Rob Portman and Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel.
“We are talking about an event that was in the best interest of anyone that’s related to the coal industry in this area or the entire country,” Moore said in the radio interview.
Murray Energy is owned by Robert Murray, one of Romney’s high dollar donors. From Wikipedia:
Murray and his companies received national attention in August 2007 when six miners were trapped at the Crandall Canyon Mine in Utah, of which Murray Energy independent operating subsidiary UtahAmerican Energy had been a part-owner for 12 months. Prior to the collapse, the Crandall Canyon Mine had received only 64 violations and $12,000 in fines, magnitudes similar to other mines of this size in the United States. He says that the safety violations were trivial and included violations such as not having enough toilet paper in the restroom. However, some news agencies reported troubling violations at other of Murray’s operations; CNN, for example, found that seven of Murray’s 19 mines were underground and 4 of them had accident rates above the national average. CNN specifically cited Murray’s Illinois Galatia mine, which had almost 3,500 safety citations in the prior two and a half years
The Plain Dealer also noted that according to the Center for Responsive Politics, the coal mining industry has donated more than $900,000 to Republicans in the past two years.
According to John McCormick at Bloomberg Business Week, as Massachusetts governor, Romney denounced coal energy, saying “it kills people,” but now that Murray is funding his presidential campaign, Romney has changed his tune.
Romney, who as Massachusetts governor vowed to close an aging coal-fired power plant because it “kills people,” has embraced the coal industry in his presidential bid, with Murray proving a key ally. He touts coal development as central to his aim of achieving “North American energy independence” at the end of a second term in office…
He also highlights the issue as defining a major difference between himself and President Barack Obama. At an Aug. 14 speech at a mine in Ohio owned by a Murray subsidiary — and with the energy executive again joining him — Romney said Obama is “waging war on coal” through over-regulation and that the president has broken promises he made to the industry to aid its transition to newer, cleaner technologies.
“If you don’t believe in coal, if you don’t believe in energy independence for America, then say it,” Romney said of Obama.
Here’s a clip from Romney’s remarks on August 14.
After the Plain Dealer story appeared, Robert Murray defended the “no pay” day to a Plain Dealer reporter. Murray was in Tampa, naturally.
We caught up with Murray Energy CEO Robert Murray a little while ago, after he exchanged pleasantries and small talk with Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine before breakfast was served. Murray is a substantial Republican donor. Asked about the claim that workers feared for their jobs if they didn’t attend, a claim that President Barack Obama’s reelection campaign has seized on, Murray said, “I think that is a lot of ridiculous nonsense.”
“What you people are suggesting is that I pay somebody to attend a political function that they attended voluntarily. You don’t pay somebody to attend a political function, and that is what you are advocating by making an issue out of this.
“I had 3,000 coal miners there – wives, children. They enjoyed it very much. It was a great day. And you people in the media are trying to make something negative out of it because some radio personality tried to make an issue out of it. Would you rather I paid people to attend a political event, because that is what you are saying. The answer is you don’t.
“My people have their own minds. They have their own desires. Nobody was ordered to attend. Nobody knows who attended and who didn’t. But I can tell you this: We had 3,000 people there, it was a great day, our people enjoyed it. Barack Obama is destroying their lives, their livelihoods. These people ae scared, and they came out in droves to see Mitt Romney and that’s what it was all about. A great day.”
Wow. Two “you people” references! That even tops Ann Romney’s defense of Mitt’s secret tax returns.