Swift MSHA action on COVID Emergency Temporary Standard is critical


JANUARY 22, 2021


[TRIANGLE, VA.] United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) International President Cecil E. Roberts issued the following statement today:

​“I applaud President Biden for his swift and decisive action to battle the coronavirus pandemic, especially with respect to ordering the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) to examine the need to issue Emergency Temporary Standards to better protect workers on the job. The UMWA represents workers who are covered by both agencies, and we believe the new leadership in place at OSHA will take quick action.

“Unfortunately, we do not have the same confidence regarding swift action at MSHA. There is no Assistant Secretary nominee as of yet, and left to its own devices I have great concern that a leaderless MSHA will choose to leave miners unprotected.

“That would be disastrous. While America’s mines have not seen the same level of infection and death that other workplaces have seen, the truth is that COVID-19 is running rampant in the mining sector. Hundreds of our members have tested positive, as have their family members. Miners have died, and more are getting sick every day.

“The UMWA is doing our best to work with the operators at mines where we represent the workers, but there is no consistency to protective actions taken by mine management. We cannot be the policemen at every mine, and we certainly cannot expect the industry to police itself. I can only imagine what the situation is like in nonunion operations where the workers have no voice in the safety of their workplaces. The swift application of consistent, enforceable standards is critical.

“America’s miners deserve the same level of health and safety protection that every other American worker receives from their government. This administration came to power on the promises of caring about all workers and their families, and fighting the pandemic on all fronts. Here is its first opportunity to demonstrate that commitment.”