Posts Tagged ‘mining’


In the world imagined by neoclassical economists, workers are simply free to stay at or leave their jobs. What doesn’t exist in their models is a worker who tries to do the right thing—and then suffers the consequences.

Mackie Bailey [ht: db] is one such worker—a Kentucky miner who provided information about dangerous practices at an underground coal mine in Harlan County where a man was crushed to death in June 2011 (for which the company and three supervisors pleaded guilty in federal court).* Bailey is now facing a complaint filed by the Kentucky Office of Mine Safety and Licensing for taking part in the dangerous activities he reported to state and federal regulators.

To Bailey and his attorney, that’s an injustice, not just because supervisors ordered Bailey to do unsafe work, but because his information helped convict the people responsible.

“They’re trying to punish the whistle-blower,” said Bailey’s attorney, Tony Oppegard, who previously worked as a federal mine-safety official and as a prosecutor in the state mine-safety agency.


*The photo above shows Bailey operating a roof-bolting machine at the Manalapan Mining Co.’s P-1 mine in 2011.

Israel's Vision for a Palestinian State

Special mention

123572_600 mattwuerker


I just took a memorable trip to Harlan County, Kentucky—a region with a rich history and crunching poverty.*


The latest battle in Harlan County is over mountaintop removal, which is already dominating the landscape and looming over communities across the border in Virginia:


*The median household income in Harlan County (according to the Census Bureau, for 2006-2010) is $26,582 (compared to $41,576 for Kentucky) and the poverty rate is 30.7 percent (compared to 17.7 percent for Kentucky)

Workers’ strikes continue to expand across the South African economy, especially in the mining and transport sectors.

Only in America

Posted: 21 September 2012 in Uncategorized
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Only in America is someone allowed to say with a straight face that coal mining is a cherished “way of life.” And only in America does that same person—a coal-industry executive—get to pretend he’s a miner, complete with bib overalls and a hard hat.

Heath Lovell is vice president of River View Coal, not a miner. Over the past two years, he and his wife have donated $21,400 to candidates for federal office, including to Mitt Romney and Rand Paul.

Protest of the day

Posted: 3 September 2012 in Uncategorized
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Protests are spreading to other mines in South Africa, and more miners shot by police, while the murder charges against the original group of miners at Lonmin have been temporarily withdrawn and debate continues to rage over what happened on the day of the Lonmin massacre.

Most workers remain on strike at the Lonmin platinum mine in Markiana, South Africa. And, it seems, strike activity is spreading to other mines in that country.


From a reader:

“I went to Marikana on Friday of last week to see the situation on the ground and evaluate possible engagements by the Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation. . .in terms of psycho-social work and in terms of getting a civil society coalition to be involved in the commission of inquiry.

“The sense we got from the miners that we spoke to was, “we’re not going back to work until we get our demands, the massacre of miners has only forced us to hold to our demands” (paraphrase). There is some kind of self-policing in terms of assuring that miners aren’t carrying around their Lonmin ID cards, which would suggest that they are reporting to work.”