Mine Workers Cheer as Supreme Court Upholds Blankenship Conviction

Mark Gruenberg

Mark Gruenberg Editor, Press Associates Union News

The Mine Workers are cheering the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to uphold the conviction of former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship on charges related to the fatal Upper Big Branch explosion at Massey’s mine more than five years ago.

Without comment, the justices refused to even accept Blankenship’s appeal of his conviction for falsifying data and other crimes in connection with the blast, which killed 29 miners in West Virginia. Investigators later traced the cause to the firm, which, under Blankenship’s direction, prioritized profits over safety. Blankenship served a year in prison.

“I join with the families of the 29 victims of the Upper Big Branch disaster, as well as the families of the other 25 people killed on Massey Energy property while Don Blankenship was CEO of that company, in applauding the Supreme Court’s rejection of Blankenship’s appeal of his federal criminal conviction,” Mine Workers President Cecil Roberts said.      

“It’s instructive to look at the record. First, Don’s whack-job theory of what happened at the UBB mine has been deemed false by two state investigations, one federal investigation and one done by the UMWA.

“Second, he has been convicted in federal court of setting up a scheme to circumvent federal mine safety and health law. His appeals have been denied at every judicial level, including now by the Supreme Court. He served an all-too-short sentence in a federal penitentiary for his crime. He is a convict, and he will always be one.

“No one believes his story about UBB because it is simply not true, even though he continues to pollute the airwaves in West Virginia with his ridiculous claims. It’s time for him to go back to Las Vegas and allow the families of those killed under his watch at Massey to live their lives free from his miserable attempts to blame others for his own misdeeds.”  

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Posted In: Allied Approaches

Union Matters

Failing Bridges Hold Public Hostage

From the USW

From tumbledown bridges to decrepit roads and failing water systems, crumbling infrastructure undermines America’s safety and prosperity. In coming weeks, Union Matters will delve into this neglect and the urgent need for a rebuilding campaign that creates jobs, fuels economic growth and revitalizes communities.

The Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) gave the public just a few hours’ notice before closing a major bridge in March, citing significant safety concerns.

The West Seattle Bridge functioned as an essential component of  the city’s local and regional transportation network, carrying 125,000 travelers a day while serving Seattle’s critical maritime and freight industries. Closing it was a huge blow to the city and its citizens. 

Yet neither Seattle’s struggle with bridge maintenance nor the inconvenience now facing the city’s motorists is unusual. Decades of neglect left bridges across the country crumbling or near collapse, requiring a massive investment to keep traffic flowing safely.

When they opened it in 1984, officials predicted the West Seattle Bridge would last 75 years.

But in 2013, cracks started appearing in the center span’s box girders, the main horizontal support beams below the roadway. These cracks spread 2 feet in a little more than two weeks, prompting the bridge’s closure.

And it’s still at risk of falling.  

The city set up an emergency alert system so those in the “fall zone” could be quickly evacuated if the bridge deteriorates to the point of collapse.

More than one-third of U.S. bridges similarly need repair work or replacement, a reminder of America’s urgent need to invest in long-ignored infrastructure.

Fixing or replacing America’s bridges wouldn’t just keep Americans moving. It would also provide millions of family-supporting jobs for steel and cement workers, while also boosting the building trades and other industries.

With bridges across the country close to failure and millions unemployed, America needs a major infrastructure campaign now more than ever.

 

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There is Dignity in All Work

There is Dignity in All Work