Mine Safety

Safer Union Mines

Mountains & miners deserve better

Studies show that union mines are much safer than non-union mines. A May 2011 report from the John M. Olin Program in Law and Economics at Stanford University found a "substantial and significant decline in traumatic mining injuries and fatalities" at underground mines where the United Mine Workers of America represented workers.

The report found that over two decades there were:

  • between 18 and 33 percent fewer traumatic injuries at union mines, compared to non-union operations;
  • between 27 to 68 percent fewer fatal accidents at union mines (the range in figures accounts for possible statistical variations because of small sample sizes).

 

Need a Lawyer?

If you are a coal miner and need legal representation on a mine safety issue, we suggest you contact:

Wes Addington
Appalachian Citizens Law Center
317 Main Street
Whitesburg, Ky 41858
606-633-3929
aclc@appalachianlawcenter.org

OR

Tony Oppegard
Attorney-At-Law
P.O. Box 22446
Lexington, Ky 40522
859-948-9239
tonyoppegard@gmail.com

Support Mine Safety graphicAbove all else, coal companies should be diligent about the safety of their workers and the conditions inside their mines. Officials responsible for enforcing mine safety laws should do so wihout interference. And elected leaders should strengthen those laws when the need is clearly demonstrated.

Unfortunately, none of this happens as it should.

An examination of 320 coal mine deaths from 1996 to 2005 by Ken Ward Jr. of the Charleston Gazette found that 91 percent of those deaths could be traced to a serious safety violation, including not performing required safety checks, poorly maintained equipment, roof control and ventilation violations, and inadequate training.

sacraficed-forgotten mine safety graphic

The disaster that killed 29 miners at the Upper Big Branch Mine in West Virginia in April 2010 reminds us that not enough has changed since Ward's report. Yet legislation to address some of the enforcement issues brought to light by this tragedy is stalled in the U.S. Congress.

KFTC has established this space to provide news, analysis and opinions about mine safety issues. We'll  update the list below as new articles and reports become available.

Sen. McConnell Hints at Support for Black Lung Disability Trust Fund

At a public meeting in Pikeville, Sen McConnell was asked whether he would support strengthening funding for the Black Lung Disability Trust Fund. Currently, the fund is running out of money because more miners are getting sick and more coal companies are going bankrupt.

Fixing What's Broke: why Congress must support a Just Transition for miners with black lung and communities

A new report from KFTC describes ways Kentuckians are organizing to demand action from Congress – and especially from Senator Mitch McConnell – in support of a Just Transition for miners with black lung disease, retired and laid off miners, and their communities.

To build a new economy in coal communities, the report says Congress should start by "fixing what's broke," including strengthening funding for the Black Lung Disability Trust Fund, passing the RECLAIM Act, and protecting miners' pensions.

Fix What's Broke: Why Congress Must Support a Just Transition for Miners and Communities

KFTC members deliver petitions in support of the RECLAIM Act to the office of Sen. Mitch McConnell

This report, published by KFTC in October 2018, outlines actions Congress must take to support a Just Transition for our miners and communities, including strengthening the Black Lung Disability Trust Fund, passing the RECLAIM Act to create jobs restoring damaged land and waterways, and protecting miners' pensions.

Knott County Local Resolution on Black Lung and RECLAIM Act

On October 16, 2018 the Knott County Fiscal Court passed a local resolution calling on Sen. McConnell and members of Congress to strengthen the Black Lung Disability Trust Fund, pass the RECLAIM Act, and protect miners' pensions. 

Local black lung resolution is picking up steam

Update 12.10.2018: Johnson County became the 15th local government in Kentucky to pass a resolution calling on Senator McConnell and other members of Congress to do right by our miners and coal communities!

* * * 

Knott, Letcher, Rowan and Pike counties became the 6th, 7th, 8th, and 9th local governments in eastern Kentucky to pass a local resolution calling on members of Congress to pass several bills needed to help sick, disabled, retired and unemployed coal miners and their communities. The fiscal courts in Letcher and Knott counties took the unanimous action at their respective monthly meetings on October 15, and Pike and Rowan counties acted the next day.

Advocates say other local governments will soon follow their example. The resolution was first adopted by the City of Benham in Harlan County in September. That action was followed quickly by local governments in the cities of Jackson, Morehead and Whitesburg, and in Breathitt, Knott, Letcher, Rowan and Pike counties. 

Update 11.30.2018: The Floyd County Fiscal Court became the 10th Kentucky community to pass the resolution on October 18. Magoffin County quickly became the 11th, followed by Ohio County, in Western Kentucky, Knox County, and the City of Lynch in Harlan County.

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