Ohio Coal Miners Forced to Attend Romney Speech while Losing a Day’s Pay

Century Mine workers and families waiting in line to see Mitt Romney (photo by Scott McClosky)

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.”

He added:

“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.

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43 Comments on “Ohio Coal Miners Forced to Attend Romney Speech while Losing a Day’s Pay”

  1. bostonboomer says:

    You can use this as an open thread. There are so many things to talk about, but I thought this was a perfect story to demonstrate Romney’s supposed “humanness.”

  2. bostonboomer says:

    Possible candidates for the mystery Thursday night speaker from around the web:

    Nancy Reagan
    Colin Powell
    Clint Eastwood
    Tim Tebow
    Rafalca

    What about Mitt’s tax preparer? That would be good.

    • Beata says:

      That would be fascinating and so educational. We The People could take notes and learn how to be job creators just like Mitt!

    • dakinikat says:

      Mitt’s personality?

    • NW Luna says:

      lol! Do they have to fly him in from Switzerland or the Caymans?

    • Allie says:

      Nancy’s a good guess….I’ve seen some speculation it’ll be Quitterella.

      That mine story is interesting. I love how Republicans throw up false equivalencies all the time (I believe that is what this is). To pay someone to attend or not? How about butting out of your employee’s business and paying workers to do a job. They could have offered unpaid time off to anyone who wanted to attend. Is that even legal forcing workers to attend a political rally?

      • bostonboomer says:

        Thanks! I’m glad someone read it. I just saw the story on MSNBC, so I guess it is starting to resonate.

      • HT says:

        Bingo, the employer has no business in the life of his/her employee beyond working hours. It does however explain that picture of Romney with the miners where not one miner looked happy to see him.

      • NW Luna says:

        Just another example of the 1% squeezing everything they can get from the serfs or expecting the peons to work for free.

        Quite different for millionaires to take a day “off” once in a while without it cutting into the budget.

      • Beata says:

        Hey, I read the story, too, BB! Thank you for bringing it to our attention.

        The mine’s CFO said “attendance at the Romney event was mandatory, but no one was forced to attend”. WTH does that mean? Intimidation much?

      • bostonboomer says:

        Thanks, Beata.

      • Beata says:

        I’m willing to cut Rob Moore some slack. Perhaps the meaning of “mandatory” is not taught at CFO school. /s

    • RalphB says:

      Don’t leave out hologram Reagan. If they can do it for Tupac rapping, they can do it for Raygun talking.

  3. Beata says:

    “Humanizing” Romney/Ryan campaign theme song to be unveiled during the convention.

  4. dakinikat says:

    Bobby Jindal now thinks the FedGov should spend lots of money for a program that the GOP has promised to eliminate if Romney is elected? WTF

    http://www.sfgate.com/business/bloomberg/article/Jindal-Says-Obama-s-Storm-Relief-Falls-Short-of-3821642.php

  5. bostonboomer says:

    Chuck Colson denounces Ayn Rand and, by extension, Paul Ryan.

    • bostonboomer says:

      I always thought that Anton LaVey’s philosophy descended from Aleister Crowley. But maybe Rand got hers from Crowley?

  6. bostonboomer says:

    Mitt Romney’s Katrina history:

    In the summer of 2005, the Savior of the 2002 Winter Olympics and the one-term Republican governor of Massachusetts was growing a bit bored. There was little opportunity for the Commonwealth’s chief executive officer to make executive decisions. Doing what one Democratic legislator called his protracted dance of the seven veils, Romney flirted with the notion of running for president.
    And then Katrina hit.

    Three days after the storm made landfall, Romney blasted the official government response to Hurricane Katrina. “In this case, it’s obviously being undermanaged, and whether that’s a local, state, or federal mismanagement or undermanagement, time will tell,” Romney told reporters. “My guess is, there is plenty of blame to go around.”

    Romney, a member of the National Governors’ Association’s special homeland-security committee, said that “any of us who have watched the TV in the last couple of days recognize that this has not been a real showcase for American ingenuity andmanagement…. This has been an embarrassment for the emergency-management setting as it’s been demonstrated to the world.”

    Before the week was out, Mitt Romney decided to show the world how Mitt Romney handles a crisis. He smacked down Boston’s Democratic Mayor Thomas M. Menino, who, at federal request, was preparing to receive evacuees to a triage center at Logan International Airport and house them at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center.

    Not so fast, Romney said. “The key at this point for our municipal officials is to make sure everything is coordinated through the state.”

    Much more at the link. Pierce has several guest bloggers today.

  7. bostonboomer says:

    The roll call vote is starting.

  8. RalphB says:

    midday quote from Matt Sullivan at Pierce’s:

    “I love the Constitution. My mother used to read Ayn Rand to me in bed every night. Now that took a long time to get through, but it changed my life.”

    —Juliette Turner-Jones, Constitution-lover, high-school freshman; daughter of Janine Turner, actress, Northern Exposure, speaker tonight at the Republican National Convention

  9. northwestrain says:

    Evidently the folks at the RNC convention will be voting on the platform — however no one has had a chance to read the final draft.

    The top article at FireDogLake has some details about the GOP platform. One part besides gutting SS and Medicare etc — is support for the African Nations who are homophobic (the ones who want to execute gays). Oh my isn’t that just so special .. NOT.

    I’m getting the feeling that the GOP really wants to put most of the American population on Reservations — rather like the Native Americans were genocided by the whites back during the “Indian Wars”.

  10. Beata says:

    Wow, this is the least enthusiastic GOP convention crowd I have ever seen. Where are the funny hats?

  11. Beata says:

    MSNBC reports that attacks on welfare will be the focus of the GOP convention and the RMoney/Ryan campaign. “Good Catholic” Rick Sanitarium will begin the festivities tonight by kicking some poor people into a gutter that has been constructed on the convention stage. Much laughter will follow. A RMoney advisor says attacks on welfare have “nothing to do with race”. Uh-huh.

    This is going to get so ugly.

    • bostonboomer says:

      I just put up a live blog for the speeches, beginning with Santorum at around 7PM. Come up and join me!

  12. Charlotte says:

    What is this Russia or Nazi Germany? I’m not a Republican or Democrat and don’t like either person running so I don’t have a dog in this fight but I do think this is un-American and think the justice dept should look into it. Had they made me attend a political event without pay I would have spent the time yelling “I’m being forced to be here without compensation. What do you think of that Mr. Romney? Do you support being forced to attend a political event without pay?” I’m sure it’s the last even I would have been forced to be at. I’d love to hear what Romney thinks of it. I hope someone saved the paperwork that proves they were forced.