Wednesday, January 04, 2006

12 Miners Dead

I've been following the West Virginia coal miners story, not least because I had to stay an hour over at work last night to help get the "good" news on the front page. I hadn't heard until just now how wrong that news was.

I saw a quote from a son of a miner talking about how this wouldn't have happened if the union were "let in." Unions have been run out of West Virginia mines -- especially the bankrupt ones that have been taken over by speculators -- through legislation and bullying by company officials.

Friend, no one is going to let the union in. If you want a union, it's you. You have to fight for it -- and yes, the company is going to lay you off and make threatening phone calls to your family and send the goons after you. It's not easy. But it's easier than trying to holler over church bells that people are dead.


  1. You think wages and benefits are good?

    The union can save your life.

    It's just such a heartbreaking story.

  2. I agree that increased union involvement in this mine's situation could have helped to advocate on the behalf of the workers, but it's ultimately the government's role to save their lives, not the union's.

    The real problem at hand here is the ever-increasing fallout of reduced federal government regulation and oversight of all kinds of industries and sectors of society. In this case, one might even compare mining and medicine, oddly enough.

    At the hospital where my wife works, the ER had to turn away a mental patient last Friday due to a shortage of beds and, possibly, human errors in diagnosis. Later that evening he depacitated his step-mother with a hatchet. One might put part of the blame on the physicians or nurses involved, another part on the hospital administration for not having enough beds, or perhaps one could even blame the nurses' union or physician's union (though there isn't a latter) roles in governing the practice of health care in cases like this.

    But the fact of the matter is, 30 years ago this man would have been institutionalized rather than living at home. But thanks to the seemingly humane dismantling of the (centralized) state mental hospital system, and its replacement with a (de-centralized and corporate) group home and in-home care system, these patients are now certainly more free than to take up the valuable time of many more health care workers than in the old system, and also free to go home and chop up their family members when they can't be treated with a reasonable continuity of care that emergency departments were never designed to provide.

    So these problems are far bigger than what workers and professionals, or management and unions, can solve alone. In this land of less government is more, one has to ask the question: oh, really?

    But God help us, if unions can help reverse these scary trends in the role of government in our lives, more power to them.

  3. Who said it first? Joe Hill? "Don't mourn -- ORGANIZE." Dammit.