Mining workers struggles

Another five US coal mine deaths in October

Bush appoints mine safety head during Senate recess

By Samuel Davidson, 2 November 2006

The Bush administration’s use of a recess appointment to push through its nomination of Richard Stickler to head the Mine Safety and Health Administration underscores the administration’s policy of stacking MSHA with former mine officials at the expense of the safety of miners. Stickler’s appointment during a Senate recess in late October demonstrates as well the administration’s contempt for democratic rights and procedures.

Bush administration refuses to collect penalties for mine safety violations

By Samuel Davidson, 21 March 2006

The death of 21 US coal miners so far this year is the tragic result of the systematic dismantling of the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA). This process—carried out under both Democratic and Republican administrations—has accelerated to an unprecedented degree under the Bush administration, which has transformed MSHA from an agency that at least nominally enforced safety regulations into a “partner” with the mining industry.

History of bitter struggle by US miners

In the background of the Sago Mine disaster -- part 2

By Shannon Jones, 26 January 2006

The following is the second part of an article on the historic struggles of US coal miners.

History of bitter struggle by US miners

In the background of the Sago Mine disaster -- part 1

By Shannon Jones, 25 January 2006

The first in a two-part series on the social and political background to the Sago Mine disaster.

New accident claims two more West Virginia coal miners

By Samuel Davidson, 23 January 2006

Tragedy again gripped the coalfields of West Virginia on Saturday, as the bodies of two miners trapped since Thursday night by a fire were recovered at the Alma No. 1 Mine in Melville, about 60 miles southwest of the state capital of Charleston, in Logan County. The two men had been making an effort to escape but were blocked by the intense heat and smoke, according to West Virginia state officials. The two men were identified as Don Bragg and Ellery Hatfield.

Two missing in fire at West Virginia coal mine

By Larry Porter and Jerry Isaacs, 21 January 2006

Less than three weeks after the Sago Mine disaster claimed the lives of 12 coal miners, two more men were trapped in a West Virginia mine Thursday night after a fire on a conveyor belt spread poisonous carbon monoxide throughout the mine. At the time of this writing, rescuers have not been able to reach the two miners, identified as Ellery Hatfield and Donald Bragg, who were separated from co-workers as they made the two-hour journey to escape the smoke-filled mine.

US coal miners denounce deadly conditions

“The government is giving a green light to the coal operators to violate safety”

By Samuel Davidson, 17 January 2006

More than 2,000 people from West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, Ohio and Alabama attended the memorial service at the West Virginia Wesleyan College chapel in Buckhannon, West Virginia, just a few miles from the Sago mine where 12 miners were trapped and killed after a January 2 explosion. (See “Memorial service for Sago miners preaches fatalism and submission”) Randal McCloy Jr., 26, the only survivor, remains in a coma at West Virginia University’s Ruby Memorial Hospital.

Memorial service for Sago miners preaches fatalism and submission

By Jerry Isaacs, 17 January 2006

An official memorial service was held on Sunday at the West Virginia Wesleyan College for the 12 coal miners killed after an explosion January 2 at the Sago Mine in nearby Upshur County, West Virginia. Some 2,000 people, including surviving relatives, co-workers and miners from several states, attended the event held at the Methodist school and messages of sympathy came from throughout the world.

After the West Virginia mine disaster, the official whitewash begins

By Jerry Isaacs, 11 January 2006

The governor of West Virginia and a spokesman for the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) announced Monday that they will conduct a joint investigation and public hearings into the Sago Mine disaster that claimed the lives of 12 miners last week. A US Senate subcommittee also announced a public hearing to be held January 19.

US media sheds crocodile tears for West Virginia miners

By Jerry Isaacs, 10 January 2006

The US media coverage of the West Virginia mine disaster has been a spectacle of ignorance, condescension and chasing higher circulation. Unburdened with any serious knowledge of the lives of coal miners or their history, scores of highly paid, highly coiffed journalists from the cable and network news channels and print media produced little but the most superficial explanations of the tragedy and its background.

Mine safety cuts hindered West Virginia rescue

By Samuel Davidson, 9 January 2006

Just as families in several West Virginia mining communities began burying the 12 miners killed in last Monday’s explosion at the Sago Mine, evidence is mounting that many of the men might have been saved if rescue efforts had not been delayed due to a shortage of manpower and the lack of the modern rescue equipment. Years of budget cuts at the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) have severely undermined the capacity of rescuers to promptly reach trapped miners, although a matter of minutes may mean the difference between life and death.

West Virginia towns mourn deaths of 12 coal miners

By Jerry Isaacs, 6 January 2006

Family members, friends and co-workers continued to mourn Thursday the deaths of 12 coal miners killed at the Sago Mine in West Virginia as preparations were being made in several communities to hold funerals for the men. The grieving, however, could not conceal an undercurrent of anger directed at company and state officials over well-known safety violations at the mine and the false hopes that officials generated by their report that 11 of the men had been rescued alive.

West Virginia mine tragedy: Families denounce company, state officials

By Jerry Isaacs, 5 January 2006

In the hours after it became clear that 12 of the 13 coal miners trapped in a West Virginia mine had perished, family, friends and co-workers expressed outrage over the earlier reports by company officials and state authorities that all but one of the men had been saved.

Twelve of 13 miners found dead after false rescue report

By Jerry Isaacs, 4 January 2006

State officials in West Virginia have confirmed that 12 miners were killed in the massive explosion that ripped through the Sago Mine on Monday morning.

West Virginia explosion traps 13 coal miners

By Barry Grey, 3 January 2006

An explosion ripped through a coal mine in West Virginia early Monday morning, trapping thirteen miners below ground. The blast occurred between 6 a.m. and 6:30 a.m. as the first shift of miners entered the Sago Mine, located 100 miles northeast of the state capital of Charleston, near the town of Buckhannon.

Coal mine explosion kills three in West Virginia

By Jerry Isaacs, 25 January 2003

Three workers were killed and three others injured in an explosion January 22 at a coal mine near Cameron, West Virginia, in the state’s northern panhandle. The six men, contract employees of Central Cambria Drilling Co., were digging an air shaft at Consol Energy’s McElroy Mine when a blast occurred at 1 a.m. at the bottom of a 940-foot-deep shaft.

Nine US miners rescued after three-day ordeal

By Eula Holmes and Paul Sherman, 29 July 2002

All nine coal miners trapped underground for three days in a southwest Pennsylvania shaft were brought to the surface by rescuers early Sunday morning. The men, who were working 240 feet down when their mine flooded Wednesday evening, emerged in various states of hypothermia, dehydration and near-starvation, but all were alive and expected to recover from their ordeal.

Nine trapped in Pennsylvania coal mine

By David Walsh, 26 July 2002

Nine coal miners remained trapped underground in southwest Pennsylvania after they accidentally drilled into an abandoned mine shaft July 24 that was flooded with water. Rescue workers lowered a six-inch drill into the Quecreek Mine near Somerset (55 miles southeast of Pittsburgh) early Thursday morning, and the miners could be heard tapping on the pipe. “We answered them and they answered back,” said Joseph Sbaffoni, Pennsylvania’s deep mine safety chief.

Two workers killed in Ohio coal mine collapse

By Jerry White, 28 September 1999

Two coal miners were killed and three others injured last Friday in a roof collapse in an underground mine scheduled to close in southeastern Ohio. William Florence, 49, and Gerald Elbe, 57, were removing drainage pipes 700 feet below the surface when the ceiling collapsed and crushed them. The accident occurred at Consolidation Coal Company's Powhatan No. 4 mine, in Clarington, Ohio, just across the Ohio River from West Virginia.

Australian miners strike to defend entitlements

By Terry Cook, 13 August 1999

About 20,000 coal miners walked out on a 24-hour national strike from midnight last night, halting production at 150 mines. Talks between union officials and federal government ministers in Canberra yesterday had not produced any solution for the 125 miners sacked from the bankrupt Oakdale mine, south-west of Sydney, last month. The sacked workers are owed more than $6.3 million in entitlements, including redundancy benefits and accrued leave payments.

Australia:

Two accidents highlight worsening coal mine safety

By Noel Holt, 22 July 1999

Two incidents have again focused attention on the deadly conditions in the mining industry in New South Wales, one of Australia's largest coal producing states. Late on Tuesday evening, 50-year-old Kevin Downes was crushed when a wall collapsed at the United Collieries mine at Warkworth, near Singleton, in the Upper Hunter Valley.

Australia: Sacked Oakdale miners work without pay to recover entitlements

By Terry Cook, 13 July 1999

About 150 coal miners from the Oakdale colliery, near Sydney, Australia, are spending over $5,000 a day and working without pay in an attempt to recoup some of the $6.3 million in entitlements and redundancy money owed to them when the mine closed at the beginning of last month.

Sacked Australian miners given no help in Canberra

By Steve Dean, 30 June 1999

Coal miners sacked at Oakdale, near Sydney, over three weeks ago are still no closer to receiving any redundancy or entitlement money, despite staging a protest in the national capital, Canberra, on June 24. The 150 miners lost their jobs when the mine was closed due to low world coal prices and a $34 million debt. They are owed $6.3 million in accrued long service, holiday pay, sick leave, severance and redundancy payments.

Miners denounce sacking with no entitlements

By Steve Dean, 16 June 1999

In what is becoming a more common practice in Australia, 150 miners at the Oakdale Colliery, 80 kilometres southwest of Sydney, were told last week, just after finishing night shift, that their mine would close.

Mass arrests at Australian mine

Union rules out national strike

By our correspondent, 27 February 1999

Arrests are continuing on the picket line at the Gordonstone coal mine near Emerald, in central Queensland. Sixty more workers were detained on Tuesday bringing the total arrested to over 146 in two weeks.

Striking Australian coal miners sacked

By Barry Jobson and Terry Cook, 28 January 1999

Coal Operations Australia sacked the entire 42-member workforce from its Chain Valley Bay underground coal mine near Newcastle, New South Wales last week. The miners, who have been on strike for nine weeks against the company's attempts to cut wages and slash conditions, were informed that the mine would close on February 15, leaving only eight people from middle management to carry out care and maintenance.

Australian miners union calls strike against coal price cuts

By Terry Cook, 18 December 1998

An interview with dissident US miner Richard Cicci

"The UMWA International is trying to send a message to all miners: if you disagree with the leadership you will be attacked and driven out of the union"

By Paul Scherrer, 16 September 1998

Another coal mine closes in Australia

By Peter Stavropoulos, 26 August 1998

Another death in an Australian coal pit

Hundreds turn out for miner's funeral

By Terry Cook, 25 July 1998

The mining town of Cessnock all but came to a standstill as up to 2,000 attended the funeral of a coal miner who was crushed to death on July 17.

Inquiry covers up causes of Australian mine disaster

By Terry Cook, 16 July 1998

Eighteen months after four mineworkers were killed at the Gretley mine, near the Australian industrial city of Newcastle, the judicial inquiry into the disaster has finally brought down its findings.

Victimized miner denounces UMWA witch-hunt

"The International is trying to silence us"

9 July 1998

Richard Cicci, one of three dissident members of the UMWA facing expulsion by the International, spoke with the World Socialist Web Site.

US miners' union assaults dissident workers, then moves for their expulsion

By Paul Scherrer, 9 July 1998

In a flagrant attack on democratic rights, the United Mine Workers of America is moving to expel three dissident miners who were physically assaulted by union bureaucrats at a rally on April 1.

Another mine death in Australia

By Terry Cook, 9 July 1998

In the early hours of July 6 another name was added to the long list of deaths in Australia's mining industry.

Closure threatened in mining disaster town of Moura

Australian coal union imposes sweeping job cuts

By Terry Cook, 18 June 1998

The Australian coal miners union has set another precedent for the wholesale destruction of jobs, wages and conditions in an agreement reached this month with mining giant BHP at the central Queensland town of Moura, the site of a notorious gas explosion in 1994.

Judge drops most charges against union officials who attacked US miners

By Paul Scherrer, 3 June 1998

On May 27 District Magistrate Walter Mark dismissed the majority of charges brought against United Mine Workers of America officials who attacked a group of dissident miners protesting against the policies of the UMWA leadership.

Thousands of jobs axed in Australian coal mines

Unions allow offensive to proceed

By Terry Cook, 2 May 1998

Without any opposition by the unions, coal companies operating in Australia are eliminating thousands of jobs as the Asian economic meltdown undermines demand for coal and prices plunge on the world market.

Charges brought by dissident US miners

UMWA officials named in assault

By Paul Scherrer, 30 April 1998

Charges have been filed against three high-ranking officials of the United Mine Workers of America for their role in an April 1 assault on a group of dissident miners protesting the policies of the UMWA leadership.

Dissident miners attacked at United Mine Workers rally

By the Editorial Board, 9 April 1998

Dissident local officers and rank-and-file coal miners were brutally attacked April 1 by supporters of the United Mine Workers of America leadership at a union rally in southwestern Pennsylvania. The incident took place at the UMWA's annual Mitchell Day celebration in Bentleyville, just south of Pittsburgh, attended by some 250 union officials and miners.