Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Civility Breaks Down on Sago Investigation?

I covered the Monday Senate Appropriation subcommittee hearing on mine safety for Ellen Smith, publisher of Mine Safety and Health News. The hearing was marked by general agreement that we need to do more for miner safety. ICG Coal CEO Ben Hatfield, among others, testified.

But just got the word that conflict has broken out over the UMWA representing miners at the non-union mine for the purposes of the investigation.

"MSHA filed for an injunction against a subsidiary of International Coal Group today after the company prevented representatives from the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) from entering the Sago Mine to assist in MSHA's investigation into the Jan. 2 accident there," Ellen reports. "MSHA recognizes UMWA representatives as a valid miner's representative."

Mine safety law provides for miners simply to designate a representative for federal mine safety purposes. The representative, who can participate in inspections and investigations on the miners' behalf, may be a fellow miner or another party.

Subscribers get occasional emails from Ellen with breaking news in addition to the biweekly newsletter. (Yes, this is a plug for my part-time employer.)

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