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UMWA orders immediate inspection of every union mine in West Virginia in wake of further fatalities in West Virginia

February 1, 2006

United Mine Workers of America President Cecil E. Roberts is sending an order to every local union President at UMWA-represented coal mines throughout West Virginia directing the UMWA safety committees at those mines to undertake a meticulous inspection of their mines in the wake of two more deaths at mines in West Virginia, one at a mine represented by the UMWA.

In support of West Virginia Governor Joe Manchin’s (D) call for a stand-down of coal mines in West Virginia, Roberts said that if operators of UMWA-represented mines do not cooperate with the inspection, the union will consider taking further action under the authority of the union’s collective bargaining agreements with the operators.

“Once again, our hearts and our prayers are with the families of those who were killed in these accidents, and to the injured miners and their families,” Roberts said. “We lost one of our UMWA brothers today, and that is an especially difficult loss for us. We are also praying for the miners who were injured today and their families. It is almost inconceivable that there can be so many fatal accidents happening so quickly on the heels of each other.

“There have now been 18 coal miners killed in the United States in the first 32 days of 2006,” Roberts said. “That’s outrageous, and we must take all steps necessary to look at the condition of the coal mines right now, so as to identify any potential problems and act on them before they cause an accident that could add to this tragic toll.”

“We support Gov. Manchin’s call for a stand-down of mines in West Virginia until there is a thorough review of safety procedures,” Roberts said. “At non-union mines, that means the Governor will have to rely on the word of the operator that the mine has carried out his directive. The UMWA will be taking that a step further at union mines with the order for a full safety inspection.”

The two miners killed in West Virginia today died in separate accidents. One was killed at Massey Energy’s non-union Black Castle mine in an explosion and the other died at Long Branch Coal’s #18 mine, which is represented by the UMWA. Further details of both accidents and the names of those who died are still forthcoming.

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