Mine Workers to Rally Against Massey Energy Company

May 18, 2010 Updated: October 1, 2015

Coal miner Kevin Honaker participates in a candle light vigil for the explosion that killed 29 coal miners in April.  Miners will rally on Tuesday against Massey Energy for what they say is the company's negligence of safety standards for its workers.  (Kayana Szymczak/Getty Images)
Coal miner Kevin Honaker participates in a candle light vigil for the explosion that killed 29 coal miners in April. Miners will rally on Tuesday against Massey Energy for what they say is the company's negligence of safety standards for its workers. (Kayana Szymczak/Getty Images)
The miner’s United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) will rally on Tuesday against Massey Energy for what they say is the company’s negligence of safety standards for its workers.

The rally is planned to take place outside of Massey Energy’s annual shareholders meeting.

According to the AFL-CIO, UMWA’s president Cecil Roberts and Secretary-Treasurer Daniel Kane, both shareholder proxies, will attend the meeting and call for the resignation of Massey CEO Donald Blankenship. They will also call for the defeat of three board members who are up for re-election at the meeting.

Massey Energy Co. is the fourth largest coal company in the United States. According to the Miner Safety and Health Administration (MSHA), Massey allegedly has a safety violations record that exceeds the national average by 19 times.

UMWA says that since 2000, 52 people have been killed on Massey Energy property. On April 5 29 miners were killed in an explosion in Massey’s Upper Big Branch mine, which according to the American Federation of Labor-Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO), has had a long standing record of bad safety practices.

When asked about the concrete changes that the rally is advocating for, UMWA communications director Phil Smith had three words: “Fire Don Blackenship,” Massey’s CEO.

Smith says that UMWA would like to, “Make the board more accountable for the actions of the company’s management, specifically when it comes to safety and worker’s rights.”

Nine state pension funds, including the New York State Common Retirement Fund and New York City Employees’ Retirement System, hold nearly $64 million in stocks that the AFL-CIO says will vote against the three members up for re-election.

The three members for whom the shareholders will vote on Tuesday are Richard Gabyrs, Dan Moore and Baxter Phillips Jr. Gabyrs holds a position on the safety committee at Massey.

Smith blames corporate greed as the responsible force for Massey’s safety violations.

“They care more about profit than they care about safety. Safety costs money sometimes,” he said.

Massey Energy officials could not be reached for comment.