by Tula Connell
Fire Dog Lake and AlterNet
Tula Connell: While six miners remain buried, the mine owner says there is no emergency and attacks his workers' union.
Owner Robert Murray didn't even wait until the six men in the collapsed Crandall Canyon coal mine had been found before he started deflecting blame for the disaster and denying any role his mine practices played in the collapse (in between yelling at circling news helicopters and insisting there is no emergency).
As six miners remain buried, beneath 1,500 feet of nearly solid rock near Huntington, Utah, Murray went on a rant at a press conference, yelling at circling news helicopters and insisting there was no emergency and attacking by name leaders of the Mine Workers (UMWA) union. But wait--the Crandall Canyon Mine isn't unionized. And what about rescuing the trapped miners, whose chances for survival are narrowing every hour?
UMWA President Cecil Roberts, whom Murray attacked by name yesterday, said:
It is very unfortunate that at a time when six miners remain trapped underground and rescuers, including members of the UMWA, are risking their lives to find them, Mr. Murray has chosen to take time away from his urgent responsibilities to conduct himself in this manner.
Maybe Murray hoped that by flinging mud, he could avoid scrutiny of a few inconvenient facts. Like the 325 citations his mine has been issued by federal mine inspectors since January 2004, according to federal Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) online records. Of those, 116 were what the government considered "significant and substantial," meaning they are likely to cause injury.
Workers' safety is not something Murray has publicly supported. During an interview with Fox News in May, Murray responded to a comment from presidential candidate Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton who asked a crowd whether they were ready for a president who is "pro-labor and will appoint people who actually care about workers' rights and workers' safety."
The Salt Lake Tribune reports this exchange between Murray and Fox News' Neil Cavuto:
"Bob, do you view this rhetoric as pro-labor, anti-business, what?" Cavuto asked Murray.
Absolutely not," Murray responded. "I view it as anti-American. These people should--are misleading the American worker then they talk about jobs. These are the people advocating draconian global warming conditions that are going to drive American jobs to foreign countries and raise electric rates for everybody on fixed incomes."
Murray is chairman of Murray Energy Co., an owner of the Crandall Canyon Mine, whose PAC has donated to the worst of the worst politicians: Sens. George Allen of Virginia, Sam Brownback of Kansas and Katherine Harris of Florida. It also gave to Ohio Republican Reps. Deborah Pryce and Patrick Tiberi, and California Rep. Richard Pombo. The committee did notgive to any Democrats during the same period, Federal Election Commission (FEC) records show.
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