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Thread: CEO of Mine Where 25 Workers Were Killed Is a Teabagger

  1. #1
    Atypical is offline

    CEO of Mine Where 25 Workers Were Killed Is a Teabagger

    Well, well, well … looks like our Mining CEO is a teabagger. Karoli at C&L writes:

    Meet Don Blankenship, CEO of Massey Energy Company. Blankenship is also on the Board of Directors of the US Chamber of Commerce. In this speech above, he denies climate change, derisively refers to Speaker Pelosi, Senator Reid, and others as “greeniacs”, and calls them all crazy. Watch the speech, you’ll see. In his mind, “the greeniacs are taking over the world.”

    Massey Energy Company, Blankenship’s highly successful strip-mining and mountaintop removal operation is the parent company of Performance Coal Co, where a tragic explosion occurred on April 5th. As of this writing, 25 miners have died and 4 more are still missing. Twenty-five families are without a loved one. Four more may discover they have lost someone they love too. 29 families in all, forever changed by one single, violent event in a coal mine. One single violent event in a coal mine run by a company so obsessed with profit it runs roughshod over employees’ and neighbors’ health and safety.

    Here’s something else about Don Blankenship and Massey Energy Company: Blankenship spent over $1 million dollars along with other US Chamber buddies like Verizon to sponsor last year’s Labor Day Tea Party, also known as the “Friends of America Rally.” Here’s Massey’s pitch. Note how he makes it sound like he isn’t one of the corporate enemies of America.

    The Friends of America Rally featured such notables as Sean Hannity, Ted Nugent, and Hank Williams, Jr., and was graced by Blankenship himself going off on a diatribe that seemed strange at the time, but has come to be commonplace these days. It concerned President Obama, Democrats, and any one who doesn’t salute God, coal, and apple pie. Oh, and we’re also going to ’steal their jobs,’ if Hannity is to be believed.

    Blankenship and Massey Energy spend millions to defend unsafe workplaces

    This guy is a perfect phony populist. Laughably, he pretends that he speaks for labor and even talks about “bad corporations” and Republicans along with his indictment of government, environmentalists, Democrats, global warming, immigrants and unions. He’s quite the piece of work:

    For every kernel of truth contained within his speech about the loss of jobs and the failure of government to look out for American workers, there is a a pile of garbage as high as Everest. I don’t have the energy to unpack it all right now, but virtually everything he says is a contradiction, a lie or a distortion. It makes my head hurt to even try.

    Here’s the result of Blankenship’s worker friendly populism:

    The Upper Big Branch Mine that suffered the most serious mining disaster since 1984 on Monday has received the most serious citations from the Mining Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) in 2009 of all Massey Energy-owned mines in West Virginia. Data collected from MSHA shows that over the course of the last year, the Upper Big Branch Mine received 48 “unwarrantable failure orders,” far exceeding Massey Energy’s number two recipient of serious citations in West Virginia.

    On Monday, 25 miners were killed and left four others trapped underground at the Upper Big Branch Mine. It is the worst mining disaster in the United States since 1984 and, if the four trapped miners are not rescued, would become the worst since 1970. The Washington Post reports, “[t]he cause of Monday’s explosion has not been determined, but a buildup of methane or coal dust was considered the likeliest culprit.”

    The Upper Big Branch mine received 39 violations in 2009 citing a failure to plan for ventilation to extract methane and other chemicals. Fifteen of these were considered “significant and substantial.” In July of 2009, the mine received its largest monetary fine of the year ($66,142) for allowing the accumulation of combustible materials in working spaces. Upper Big Branch received 34 similar violations citing accumulation of combustible materials, 20 of which were determined to be “significant and substantial.”

    Massey Energy has contested nearly all major citations issued against the Upper Big Branch Mine in 2009 and has paid less than 20% of the fines levied against them. Of the top 100 fines levied against the Upper Big Branch Mine in 2009, Massey Energy has contested or are delinquent in paying 85% of them. Upper Big Branch was also cited for 202 violations that were considered “significant and substantial.” Seventy-six percent of those have either been contested or Massey Energy is delinquent in paying them.

    I’m sure those people cheering every insane thing he said at that rally will blame the government for failing to stop him, thus proving once again that it can’t do anything right. That’s what happens when a good portion of the American people go down the rabbit hole.

  2. #2
    Atypical is offline

    The Company Behind the Mine Disaster Has Grotesque Safety Record

    by Kevin Connor

    The death toll in the West Virginia mining explosion has climbed to 25, the worst mining accident since 1984, and the company that owns the mine, Massey Energy, is coming under intense scrutiny for a record of safety violations that suggests it could have done far more to guard against disasters like the one that occurred on Monday.

    Think Progress has compiled extensive data on violations at Massey’s Upper Big Branch Mine, where the accident occurred, showing that the company has been cited a staggering 3,007 times since 1995 for violations at that mine, with assessed fines of $2.2 million (Massey is currently contesting $1.1 million of that amount).

    Disregard for worker safety was central to Massey’s business model: keep labor costs low to keep profits running high. That meant breaking unions and issuing memos like this one from CEO Don Blankenship which informed mine superintendents that “RUNNING COAL” was more important than any safety-related activity in the mines.

    Specifically, Blankenship made a derisive, parenthetical reference to the construction of overcasts, which are mine ventilation structures designed to keep workers alive and breathing.

    Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship

    The company’s environmental record is similarly grotesque. The company is a leading practicioner of mountain-top removal, a horribly destructive method of mining. According to Forbes, in 2001 after 30,000 gallons of sludge emptied out of one of its mines into a nearby river with nary a peep from Massey, it won superlative condemnation from the state’s mine safety board, which called its response “absolutely the worst behavior by any company that any member of this board has ever seen over the decades that this board has been in existence.”

    Blankenship is the sort of fringe lunatic readily embraced by the US Chamber of Commerce, where he sits on the board of directors. He calls environmental advocates “greeniacs,” has described the Charleston Gazette as a collection of “communists and atheists” and likened them to Osama bin Laden, and in 2004 launched a sinister, multi-million dollar campaign to back a candidate that swung the West Virginia Supreme Court in his favor. That bit of political intervention served as the inspiration for a John Grisham novel.

    And then there is this chilling Blankenship quote from 1984:

    “Unions, communities, people — everybody’s gonna have to accept that, in the United States, we have a capitalist society. And that capitalism, from a business viewpoint, is survival of the most productive.”

    Who stands behind outlandish corporate villains like Blankenship?

    Wall Street, for one thing. Massey saw big gains in recent months on the strength of profit projections. Stanley Druckenmiller’s Duquesne Capital gave Blankenship a vote of confidence by buying 6.2% of the company earlier this year. Druckenmiller was once George Soros’s right-hand man, helping him break the British pound in 1992.

    To their credit, several banks, including Bank of America, have apparently stopped financing Massey’s operations in recent years. But overall, Wall Street (surprise surprise) had failed to price in the rising risk of utter catastrophe at one of Massey’s coal mines.

    Former NSA director Bobby Ray Inman has stood by Blankenship and supported his leadership of Massey for over two decades. He is Massey’s lead independent director (and its longest-serving board member), having joined the board in 1985, when it was still a subsidiary of Fluor Corp (and Blankenship was not yet head of the company). Under Inman’s watch, Blankenship was promoted to CEO. In 2000, Massey split from Fluor, and Inman (and Blankenship) went with it.

    Year after year, as a member of Massey’s compensation committee, Inman has approved multi-million dollar payouts for Blankenship. In 2008, Blankenship made $19.7 million, all told, and he reportedly got a raise in 2009.

    Inman is about as elite as you can get: Clinton’s nominee for Defense Secretary in 1993 (he eventually withdrew); on the boards of numerous companies, many of them defense contractors; an honorary member of the Public Agenda Foundation, along with social security looter Pete Peterson; and, of course, a member of the Bohemian Club.

    All signs point to Blankenship, Inman, and other members of Massey’s leadership facing some tough questions over the coming months.

    One place to find them: at the company’s annual shareholder meeting, May 18at 9am at the Jefferson Hotel in Richmond, Virginia.


    And it's this kind of "capitalism" that no one should support. But this kind of capitalism is the most common - keep costs low to get more profit. Screw everything else. AND PEOPLE DIE!!!
    Last edited by Atypical; 04-07-2010 at 05:40 PM.

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