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Diatribe: Coal Miners Lose A Day’s Pay To Attend Political Rally.


Many years ago, I worked for a fairly large company that had a reputation for being somewhat philanthropic in the community.  A regional charity arranged annual giving opportunities whereby they offered to accept donations via payroll deduction.  Of course, as all good fundraisers do, they made a competition of it and every company in town worked diligently to achieve a “100% Participation” goal.

This made it difficult, if not impossible, for employees to choose to not donate.  There were many areas that they could direct donations once the charity received them but there was never an option to not donate.  The pressure to give made for an uncomfortable work atmosphere.  My co-workers and I weren’t earning very large salaries and our budgets were tight.  Eventually, we determined that the best way to handle the situation was to donate one dollar per paycheck.  In this way, the company could achieve 100% participation, it would only cost each of us $26 per year and we could put an end to the drama.

Coal miners in Beallsville, Ohio’s Century Mine felt similar pressure on August 14th when they were forced to attend a rally for GOP Presidential candidate Mitt Romney who visited to promote jobs in the coal industry.  Ironically, workers who appeared with him at the rally lost pay because the mine was shut down.

Managers at the Pepper Pike Company that owns the Century Mine told workers that attending the event would be both mandatory and unpaid but no one was forced to attend.  Because many employees feared they might be fired if they didn’t attend, the campaign rally appeared to attract a much bigger crowd.

“… nobody should be pressured into attending anyone’s political event.” – WWVA radio station talk show host David Blomquist

The company claims that the mine had to be shut down for safety and security reasons during Romney’s visit and the workers are never paid when the mine is not in operation.  Just as when bad weather or other events keep them from working, they would have to make up their missed hours on overtime or weekends.

I remember how upsetting it was to be pressured into giving up $26 per year so I can imagine the damage done by the loss of an entire day’s pay.  Was this a terrible thing to do to employees?

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Copyright © 2012

From → Diatribes

  1. Miners have never gotten a fair shake. At times they get fed up and we get events like the Battle of Blair Mountain. I knew a woman who was injured by a bomb dropped into their back yard because she ran out to see the plane (a rare thing in 1921) and it went off. Such hard and dangerous work that adds on the abuses of management always makes me feel for the miner.


  2. Don’t cha know, D&O this lesson from Dr. Seuss: As the Oncler said to the Lorax: Business is Business and business must grow!


  3. I saw an interview with an advocate for alternative energy on Bill Maher. I cannot recall his name, but he noted there is a growing number of green jobs that rival the fossil fuel jobs. It does not have to be an either/ or question with alternative energy vs. jobs. It can be both. An additional key point is the kinds of jobs – he said coal mining is a life diminishing occupation. So, by de-emphasizing coal as a needed path forward is not necessarily a bad thing from a job standpoint. It is easy for the owners to say “coal, coal, coal” as they don’t have to go in the mine to get it.


  4. This is a shame, the company should be ashamed of themselves! Isn’t it against the law for employers to force their employees to support a political candidate?


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