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MSHA report on Aracoma disaster 'reveals truth about safety conditions' in nonunion mines, UMWA says

March 29, 2007

For Immediate Release

Contact: Phil Smith, (703) 208-7241

United Mine Workers of America International President Cecil E. Roberts said today that the report of the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) about the January 2006 disaster at Massey Energy's Aracoma Alma mine in Logan County, W. Va., "reveals in stark detail the truth about substandard safety conditions at many nonunion mines throughout the nation's coalfields."

"The report shows that Massey management at the mine violated multiple safety laws at Aracoma that led directly to the tragic deaths of the two miners there," Roberts said. "The report also demonstrates that these conditions were ongoing for weeks and months prior to the underground fire at the mine.

"This mine was set up to be a deathtrap, and that's what it became," Roberts said. "Conditions in the mine were bad, and made worse by the decisions mine management made and the lack of attention to critical safety measures that could have meant the difference between life and death.

"Miners throughout the coalfields know that these sorts of conditions routinely exist at nonunion mines," Roberts said. "Miners at nonunion mines don't have the safety rights UMWA miners have, rights that are written into our contracts and must be respected by mine management.

"As miners who worked at both union and nonunion mines testified at yesterday's hearing before the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Education and Labor, union mines are safer mines," Roberts said. "As we work with Congress and state legislatures to improve safety conditions in all of America's coal mines, the UMWA will continue to take that message to the coalfields."

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