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

Get to Know AFL-CIO's Affiliates: National Association of Letter Carriers

From the AFL-CIO

Next up in our series that takes a deeper look at each of our affiliates is the National Association of Letter Carriers.

Name of Union: National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC)

Mission: To unite fraternally all city letter carriers employed by the U.S. Postal Service for their mutual benefit; to obtain and secure rights as employees of the USPS and to strive at all times to promote the safety and the welfare of every member; to strive for the constant improvement of the Postal Service; and for other purposes. NALC is a single-craft union and is the sole collective-bargaining agent for city letter carriers.

Current Leadership of Union: Fredric V. Rolando serves as president of NALC, after being sworn in as the union's 18th president in 2009. Rolando began his career as a letter carrier in 1978 in South Miami before moving to Sarasota in 1984. He was elected president of Branch 2148 in 1988 and served in that role until 1999. In the ensuing years, he worked in various roles for NALC before winning his election as a national officer in 2002, when he was elected director of city delivery. In 2006, he won election as executive vice president. Rolando was re-elected as NALC president in 2010, 2014 and 2018.

Brian Renfroe serves as executive vice president, Lew Drass as vice president, Nicole Rhine as secretary-treasurer, Paul Barner as assistant secretary-treasurer, Christopher Jackson as director of city delivery, Manuel L. Peralta Jr. as director of safety and health, Dan Toth as director of retired members, Stephanie Stewart as director of the Health Benefit Plan and James W. “Jim” Yates as director of life insurance.

Number of Members: 291,000 active and retired letter carriers.

Members Work As: City letter carriers.

Industries Represented: The United States Postal Service.

History: In 1794, the first letter carriers were appointed by Congress as the implementation of the new U.S. Constitution was being put into effect. By the time of the Civil War, free delivery of city mail was established and letter carriers successfully concluded a campaign for the eight-hour workday in 1888. The next year, letter carriers came together in Milwaukee and the National Association of Letter Carriers was formed.

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There is Dignity in All Work