Posts Tagged ‘coal’
Tags: capitalism, cartoon, children, coal, fast food, food stamps, healthcare, jobs, mountaintop removal, services, United States, workers
Tags: Appalachia, capitalism, Cleveland, coal, environment, illth, Massey Energy, noncapitalism, worker-ownership, workers
What’s the difference between Massey Energy’s Upper Big Branch mine in Montcoal, West Virginia and Ohio Cooperative Solar in Cleveland? The mine, in which 29 workers were killed in 2010, created wealth for CEO Don Blankenship and Massey’s shareholders and “illth”—poisoned streams, toxic air, and deliberate inattention to safety in and around the mine—for everyone else. Ohio Cooperative Solar, in contrast, is a worker-owned enterprise that operates on a one-worker/one-vote model and, as part of the Evergreen Cooperatives, seeks to improve conditions for its workers and the surrounding communities.
As Erik Reece [ht: db] explains in a remarkable recent essay, “The End of Illth,”
As CEO of Massey, Don Blankenship hadn’t dug up an ounce of coal, but in his last year at the company he walked away with $17.8 million and a deferred compensation package valued at $27.2 million. [Former CEO Steve] Kiel told me that under the formula OCS had developed, profit-shares were determined one third by a worker’s wages, one third by the hours he or she had worked that year, and one third by his or her overall tenure with the company. The model sought to reward commitment to the co-op and to the community.
“The deal we make with employees is that this is not an overnight ATM machine,” Kiel said. “You’re going to have to work here eight to ten years before you see the benefits of ownership. . . . What we get in return as a community is people living in these neighborhoods for long periods of time with long-term job security, and that leads to the entire community stabilization we’re looking for.” What’s more, when the workers are the stakeholders, long-term thinking about what’s best for the company replaces the short-term, profit-driven motives of today’s average shareholder. “Most capitalists have a return-on-investment threshold,” Kiel said. “Typically venture capital is going to put up a million dollars up front and will look to get a [huge] annual return. We don’t have that capitalist on board, so we have a different measure, which is how many people can we hire.”
The worker-owned model advocated by Reece represents a new answer to the question “which side are you on?” not only for the traditional coal-mining areas in Appalachia but for the rest of the country.
Tags: cartoon, climate change, coal, corporations, debt ceiling, gas, government, Obama, oil, Republicans, Scalia, Supreme Court
Tags: Assad, cartoon, coal, environment, Federal Reserve, inequality, recovery, Russia, Syria, Wall Street, war, workers
Tags: cartoon, coal, corporations, crisis, economy, global warming, jobs, outsourcing, students
Tags: cartoon, coal, Congress, economy, guns, jobs, NRA, Obama
Tags: banks, capitalism, cartoon, Catholic Church, coal, environment, fracking, mountaintop removal, pope, SEC, Wall Street
Tags: coal, election, Murray Energy, politics, Romney, United States
This week, students in one of my courses are reading Jacob Hacker and Paul Pierson’s Winner-Take-All Politics: How Washington Made the Rich Richer—and Turned Its Back on the Middle Class. And they’re having a hard time with it, finding it difficult to believe that the super-rich exercise enormous control over both the economic and political systems in the United States.
And then there’s Robert Murray [ht: sm], chief executive of Murray Energy Co., the largest privately held coal company in America, who has just decided to lay off more than 150 workers—and to blame the layoffs on Obama!
“The American people have made their choice,” Murray said in what he called a prayer that he delivered at a staff meeting at which he discussed the layoffs. . .“We are a country in favor of redistribution, national weakness and reduced standard of living and lower and lower levels of personal freedom…. The takers outvoted the producers.”
According to Stephen Lacey, Murray organized a fundraiser for Mitt Romney, eventually bundling more than a million and half dollars for the candidate. Murray also required his employees to attend an August campaign rally for Romney and to donate to Romney and to other Republican candidates.
Romney, in turn, expressed his support for Murray.
“You’ve got a great boss, he runs a great operation here,” Mitt Romney told a group of Ohio coal miners at a Murray Energy mine on Aug. 14, before launching into an attack on President Obama’s supposed opposition to coal.
Tags: cartoon, coal, environment, mining, Obama, politics, race, Republicans, United States, workers
Tags: coal, history, miners, protest, West Virginia, workers
One hundred historians and professors (including my friend Dwight Billings, native of West Virginia and past president of the Appalachian Studies Association) sent a petition to West Virginia’s legislators Monday, urging them to create a permanent park honoring the Battle of Blair Mountain.