For this week’s local labor events, go to dclabor.org and click on Calendar.
Here’s today’s labor history:
On this date in 2010, a huge underground explosion at the Upper Big Branch Mine in West Virginia killed 29 miners. It was the worst U.S. mine disaster in 40 years. The Massey Energy Company mine had been cited for two safety infractions the day before the blast; 57 the month before, and 1,342 in the previous five years.
Massey’s then-CEO, Don Blankenship, was indicted by a federal grand jury on four criminal counts and faced up to 31 years in prison. However, late last year, Blankenship was found guilty of one misdemeanor charge of conspiring to willfully violate mine safety and health standards and was acquitted of felony charges, leaving him facing just one year in jail and a $250,000 fine or restitution to the victims.
Today’s labor quote is by United Mine Workers president Cecil Roberts, quoting a letter from a miner who died in the Upper Big Branch blast and had feared for his life.
Cecil Roberts, who said “There was a young man named Josh Napper. I know his family. Twenty-five years old, wrote a letter to his mother, his fiance and his baby, and said if I die, I want you to know I love you. Now that's the kind of letter people used to write going to Vietnam.”