Romney Mine Visit Cost Miners a Day of Pay

Mitt Romney visited an Ohio coal mine to promote jobs in the industry, unwittingly showing why a job in the industry sucks.

Mitt Romney visited an Ohio coal mine to promote jobs in the industry, unwittingly showing why a job in the industry sucks.

Sabrina Eaton, The Plain Dealer (“Coal miners lost pay when Mitt Romney visited their mine to promote coal jobs“):

When GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney visited an Ohio coal mine this month to promote jobs in the coal industry, workers who appeared with him at the rally lost pay because their mine was shut down.

The Pepper Pike company that owns the Century Mine told workers that attending the Aug. 14 Romney event would be both mandatory and unpaid, a top company official said Monday morning in a West Virginia radio interview.

A group of employees who feared they’d be fired if they didn’t attend the campaign rally in Beallsville, Ohio, complained about it to WWVA radio station talk show host David Blomquist. Blomquist discussed their beefs on the air Monday with Murray Energy Chief Financial Officer Rob Moore.

Moore told Blomquist that managers “communicated to our workforce that the attendance at the Romney event was mandatory, but no one was forced to attend.” He said the company did not penalize no-shows.

Because the company’s mine had to be shut down for “safety and security” reasons during Romney’s visit, Moore confirmed workers were not paid that day. He said miners also lose pay when weather or power outages shut down the mine, and noted that federal election law doesn’t let companies pay workers to attend political events.

While the headline focuses on Romney, it’s obviously not his fault that his visit cost the miner’s a few hours’ pay. And, it may well be that, in this particular case, the mine owners actually were legally prohibited from paying their workers. But the fact that they don’t compensate their folks when the mine is shut down owing to weather and power outages shows what a horrible way mining coal is to make a living.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2012, Economics and Business, Quick Takes, US Politics
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Bleev K says:

    Repugnant.

  2. Could be worse.

  3. anjin-san says:

    My grandfather nearly died in a coal mine – he was sent down to work in one when he was 9. It’s not as bad now as then, but it is bad.

  4. sam says:

    Hmmm.

    The Pepper Pike company that owns the Century Mine told workers that attending the Aug. 14 Romney event would be both mandatory and unpaid

    [W]hat a horrible way mining coal is to make a living

  5. The town of Westport, CT is still owed by the Obama campaign for the money needed to provide his security detail, which actually shut down all of I-95 from Darien to Fairfield (a good chunk of road).

    No one seems to give a crap that their events have real-life effects on real-life people. At least here, it’s a very, very, very rich town that’s owed money, and the police made overtime. That’s not the case with Romney’s visit.

  6. grumpy realist says:

    Another reason why I’m in favor of renewables and some of the more futuristic versions of such.

  7. C. Clavin says:

    So the mine was convieniently shut down because of issues totally un-related to Romney’s visit during Romney’s visit. Christ, James…what’s it taste like licking Romney’s boots all day long???
    From the Columbus Dispatch:

    “…Murray Energy Corp. founder Robert Murray told The Dispatch this morning the Beallsville coal mine he owned was closed for the duration of GOP presidential hopeful Mitt Romney’s rally there this month at the request of the Secret Service.
    But Team Romney says the decision to close the mine was Murray’s…”

    On top of this insult to blue collar workers by Romney…is the fact that a President Romney would completely dismantle safety regulations so that Mine Owners could kill even more miners than they already kill. All in the name of maximizing profit.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crandall_Canyon_Mine
    One of Murray’s mines, the Galatia Mine in Illinois, had 3500 violations in 2-1/2 years.
    Yeah…it’s a horrible way to make a living…and President Romney will make it worse.

  8. @Christopher Bowen:

    I’m afraid the only way to straighten it out is with taxpayer funded campaigns.

    See, when Obama travels, even to a fundraiser, most of the expense is considered “Presidential.” If he starts paying for cop overtime, why not a per-mile for Air Force One, and for full security?

    Pretty soon you need to bill the Romney campaign for their secret service … and so on.

  9. Scott says:

    “communicated to our workforce that the attendance at the Romney event was mandatory, but no one was forced to attend.”

    What kind of double-speak is that? When the coal company says “forced” do they only mean at gunpoint? I’m not a labor law person but if the company says something is mandatory, then they are obligated to pay (for non-exempt employees). To turn around and say that would violate election laws, then they have to choose which law they violated. I’m sure there is some document somewhere that will let them off the hook.

  10. Nikki says:

    But the fact that they don’t compensate their folks when the mine is shut down owing to weather and power outages shows what a horrible way mining coal is to make a living.

    You say this as if mine owners have no power whatsoever to make the lives of their workers better. It’s quite obvious, however, that the owners don’t what to (hence, the gutting of safety regulations).

  11. Ron Beasley says:

    @Christopher Bowen: The city of Portland, OR is still owed by the Bush 2004 campaign for security required during a Bush fundraiser.

  12. al-Ameda says:

    @Christopher Bowen:
    @Ron Beasley:

    @Christopher Bowen: The city of Portland, OR is still owed by the Bush 2004 campaign for security required during a Bush fundraiser.

    Many cities go through the kabuki of billing the federal government for the (very inflated) estimated costs of providing police protection, security and traffic control when any president comes to town. It is a necessary bit of theater that elected official have to go through, and to my knowledge, the town are lucky to receive a polite letter of rejection.

  13. al-Ameda says:

    Caption that picture,

    “When I used to work Bain, I acquired companies like this and laid off workers like you – very profitable. By the way, can I count on your support?”

  14. Rob in CT says:

    communicated to our workforce that the attendance at the Romney event was mandatory, but no one was forced to attend

    This… I mean… what?

    The people who run that mine are complete aholes. Just because you can get away with doing a thing shouldn’t mean that you do that thing.

  15. Rob in CT says:

    Oh, and by the way, regarding federal election law not allowing pay for attending political events: that part is fine.

    It’s the mandatory + no pay thing that is offensive.

    Please tell me this isn’t standard operating procedure whenever a politician visits a factory for a speech + photo op. If that line about federal election regs is correct, wouldn’t it have to be standard?

  16. James Joyner says:

    @C. Clavin: Uh, the fact that Romney was making one of hundreds of campaign stops at this worksite in no way makes the owners not paying their employees his fault.

    @john personna: I’m not sure where the line should be drawn, either. But the system as it is certainly stinks for all concerned.

    @Scott: @Rob in CT: Yes, I fully agree that the owners, if they were unable to pay workers, should not have been allowed to make attendance mandatory. They probably hinted strongly that attendance was expected but didn’t actually go through the process of calling roll and punishing non-attendance; still, a shitty thing to do.

  17. Just Me says:

    I am pretty curious about the mandatory condition-especially since later in the same article it says that those who did not attend weren’t penalized.

    Either way I am pretty sure things like this happen often with campaigning anymore-I remember reading an article about Obama coming to a beer tent at a state fair, and the owner mentioning that he would rather he not, because the secret service would close off the area and he actually loses money because the customers are prohibited from coming in while Obama is in the tent.

    My guess is secret service probably has the most to do with the various inconveniences when candidates visit and the candidates have little to do with those decisions.

    Also, Obama visited UNH in Durham NH this summer and refused to pay the 20k bill for security. Apparently an anonymous donor paid the bill.

  18. Jim Treacher says:

    Yeah, they’ll be better off once Obama gets a second term and puts them out of work for good.

  19. Herb says:

    Romney should write these guys a check.

  20. Rob in CT says:

    @Jim Treacher:

    Um, the natural gas boom (you know, the one you’re supposed to be whining about Obama ruining somehow) is what’s kicking coal’s butt right now. And, for perspective, coal still accounts for 36% of our energy production, even with the Nat. gas boom and the Obamamonster.

    Natural‐gas‐fired generation continues to expand its share of total generation at the expense of coal‐fired generation. During the first quarter of 2012, natural gas accounted for 28.7 percent of total generation compared with 20.7 percent during the same quarter last year. In contrast, coal’s share of total generation declined from 44.6 percent to 36.0 percent over the same period.

    Prices for natural gas delivered to the electric power industry fell by 7.5 percent in 2011, which contributed to a significant increase in the share of natural‐gas‐fired generation. EIA expects this trend to continue in 2012, with electric power sector coal consumption falling by 14 percent. Natural gas in the electric power sector grows by almost 21 percent in 2012, primarily driven by the increasing relative cost advantages of natural gas over coal for power generation in some regions.

    The U.S. coal industry if facing major headwinds. The current drop in generation is mostly due to competition from natural gas. But there are other factors that will assist in pushing coal out of the electricity mix: An aging fleet of plants, cost-competitive renewables, new clean air regulations, and a strong anti-coal movement are working together to reduce the attractiveness of coal. Since 2010, plant operators have announced 106 retirements of coal facilities — representing 13 percent of the U.S. fleet

    The only factor a Romney admininstration could plausibly reverse is the clean air regs, which is second fiddle (or third, or fourth) to natural gas as a threat to coal.

    Not that facts matter to you, but there they are.

  21. C. Clavin says:

    “…@C. Clavin: Uh, the fact that Romney was making one of hundreds of campaign stops at this worksite in no way makes the owners not paying their employees his fault…”

    If he hadn’t gone there then it wouldn’t have closed and they wouldn’t have lost a days pay. Ipso facto it’s his fault. And as I said…a days pay is nothing compared to what will happen to them after Romney de-regulates everything in an effort to pay back the Kochs and Murrays of the world for their donations.

  22. michael reynolds says:

    The air in Beijing where they don’t worry about no environmental controls on good, honest coal power.

  23. C. Clavin says:

    “…@C. Clavin: Uh, the fact that Romney was making one of hundreds of campaign stops at this worksite in no way makes the owners not paying their employees his fault…”

    If he hadn’t gone there then it wouldn’t have closed and they wouldn’t have lost a days pay. Ipso facto it’s his fault. And as I said…a days pay is nothing compared to what will happen to them after Romney de-regulates everything in an effort to pay back the Kochs and Murrays of the world for bankrolling his campaign.

  24. C. Clavin says:

    Sorry for the double-post double-post.

  25. Ron Beasley says:

    @al-Ameda: They didn’t bill the Fed, they billed the Bush campaign but I agree it’s a Kabuki dance.

  26. OzarkHillbilly says:

    I am sure Mitt could easily cover the lost wages of these poor coal miners out of his campaign funds, or maybe Carl Rove could do it? Any way, I am sure Mitt, out of the kindness of his soul will share 1/24,000th of his wealth with these Republican voters.

  27. Rafer Janders says:

    But the fact that they don’t compensate their folks when the mine is shut down owing to weather and power outages shows what a horrible way mining coal is to make a living.

    The lesson I draw from this isn’t that coal mining is a horrible way to make a living, it’s that coal mine operators are horrible bosses to work for.

  28. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @James Joyner:

    Uh, the fact that Romney was making one of hundreds of campaign stops at this worksite in no way makes the owners not paying their employees his fault.

    James, You really don’t live in the same world as the rest of us, do you? “Romney comes, I lose a day’s pay.” No it isn’t his fault…. So…. who’s fault is it?

  29. Scott says:

    @Rafer Janders: Actually, as a pretty well paid white collar professional, if we have a snow day, I have to take paid leave. As least I get paid.

  30. JKB says:

    I’m sorry but have few here ever had a real job. These weren’t government workers. In the real world, workers don’t get paid if they don’t work, for whatever reason. I suspect if you read the miners’ union contract you’ll find that language. It is rough but it is the real world.

    Down at the local McDonalds when the power is out or the weather forces them to close, the workers don’t get paid either. It is the life of the non-exempt employee. When a road is shut down for a Presidential motorcade often the businesses close, sending employees home and they aren’t paid.

    Now it is true, a sole proprietor/partnership could choose to make the employees whole but that is a very different issue for a corporation, with a union contract and apparently, a political rally.

    Should candidates, including the President, give consideration to the impact their visit/presence will cause? Yes. Do the overprivileged elite of DC consider the impact of their security theater on working people? No. And it is not something to pawn off on the Secret Service, if the campaigns bothered to consider it, the Secret Service could inform them of the closures they will require.

  31. Nikki says:

    They probably hinted strongly that attendance was expected but didn’t actually go through the process of calling roll and punishing non-attendance

    If they didn’t take a roll call, then it’s safe to assume that everyone didn’t get paid whether they attended or not.

  32. al-Ameda says:

    @Jim Treacher:
    Obama is going to hire Bain Capital to get rid of those guys?

  33. Herb says:

    @JKB:

    “In the real world, workers don’t get paid if they don’t work, for whatever reason.”

    O RLY?

    In the “real world,” huh? Don’t make me stop being polite…….

  34. An Interested Party says:

    I’m sorry but have few here ever had a real job. These weren’t government workers. In the real world, workers don’t get paid if they don’t work, for whatever reason. I suspect if you read the miners’ union contract you’ll find that language. It is rough but it is the real world.

    Down at the local McDonalds when the power is out or the weather forces them to close, the workers don’t get paid either. It is the life of the non-exempt employee. When a road is shut down for a Presidential motorcade often the businesses close, sending employees home and they aren’t paid.

    Who could have guessed that a “real job” involves losing a day’s pay because a fu@king politician wants to stop by..who could have guessed that a “real job” means being at the mercy of the fatcats who run the company with no recourse other than quitting…yeah, I’m sure most Americans really want a “real job”…

  35. bill says:

    @al-Ameda: and obama will gladly accept Bains campaign contributions.

  36. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @JKB:

    I’m sorry but have few here ever had a real job. These weren’t government workers In the real world, workers don’t get paid if they don’t work, for whatever reason. I suspect if you read the miners’ union contract you’ll find that language. It is rough but it is the real world.

    Ooooohhhhhh KKKKkkkkkkay, as one who “has had a real job” my entire life, I have never gotten paid for a single hour I did not put in. And yeah, if you read my contract language you will find that, yes, I get fwcked whenever Mitt and his minions come around.

    Mitt? Do me a favor? Go away? Don’t come back?

  37. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @JKB: And JKB? STFU about shit you don’t have a clue about.

  38. Septimius says:

    Did they also lose their health insurance for the day? I hope none of their wives get cancer in five years.

  39. @JKB:

    These weren’t government workers. In the real world, workers don’t get paid if they don’t work, for whatever reason.

    What government agency are you thinking of?

  40. bk says:

    @al-Ameda: Treacher’s a Daily Caller troll. I’m surprised, frankly, that he hasn’t popped in with his favorite “Obama ate a dog” line yet.

  41. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    @Timothy Watson: The workers in the Magical Thinking and Making Stuff Up on the Fly Department in JBKrandistan?

  42. michael reynolds says:

    I am in the terribly uncomfortable position of agreeing with JKB. Having worked many low-status jobs in my day, it never would have occurred to me that I’d be paid if the power went out etc…

    And honestly, presidents and candidates all do a certain amount of damage as they go about their vote-chasing business. Every time an Obama motorcade cuts through Manhattan cabbies lose fares and restaurants lose reservations. I don’t think this can be pinned on Romney.

    The mining company? Sure. And any pressure to attend a political rally is wrong.

  43. An Interested Party says:

    The mining company? Sure. And any pressure to attend a political rally is wrong.

    This, of course, is the point…and the terrible irony is that if Romney wins the presidency, the miners’ safety could be lessened, but at least they get to attend a rally for him…perhaps that eases their worries…

  44. LCaution says:

    Hmmm. When Loma Prieta hit, company shut down for a day. I still got paid and I think all full-timers did. Real world jobs, honest. That’s pretty much been my experience: contract workers, part-timers do get shafted (no sick time, no vacation time, no holidays). But I was never required to attend a political rally.

    And may I emphasize here that the owner ordered attendance specifically to help Romney’s campaign by showing support from coal miners. I sure hope they all at least plan to vote for Romney….

  45. Lib Cap says:

    More detail… Imagine hearing:

    * Romney said that day that Murray is a “great boss, he runs a great operation here.”

    Knowing that YOU are not getting paid.

    That’s a pretty bitter cup.

    .

    Even more so when those workers specifically know:

    * Union president Becky Williams noted that the Center for Responsive Politics shows parent company Murray Energy has donated more than $900,000 to the Republican ticket in the past two years.

    “When there is a clear vested interest of nearly a million dollars to the Republican ticket by the owners of this energy company, that’s one thing,” Williams said in a statement. “But when you force your company’s political agenda on hard-working Ohioans, Americans, stripping them of a day’s wages that are already low to begin with; that’s reprehensible behavior.”

    Souce: http://www.dispatch.com/content/stories/local/2012/08/28/romneys-coal-mine-speech-under-fire.html

  46. Rob in CT says:

    To sum up:

    You must go to this event, for which we are closing the mine, which means you don’t get paid (further, we can’t pay you while you go to the event, because that’s against federal election law). But you gotta go.

    I’d be pretty pissed off if I was told that, regardless of who the politician was. Because it’s a raw deal.

  47. rudderpedals says:

    The campaign doesn’t care. Extras don’t get paid

  48. Barry says:

    “And, it may well be that, in this particular case, the mine owners actually were legally prohibited from paying their workers. ”

    James, the man f*cking confessed that it was a mandatory, unpaid action.

  49. Barry says:

    @James Joyner: “They probably hinted strongly that attendance was expected but didn’t actually go through the process of calling roll and punishing non-attendance; still, a shitty thing to do. ”

    I don’t have the link, but from what I’ve read elsewhere ‘pre-registration’ was required for security reasons, and also ‘checking-in’ people who attended.

  50. Barry says:

    @Just Me: “I am pretty curious about the mandatory condition-especially since later in the same article it says that those who did not attend weren’t penalized.”

    Yet.

  51. Barry says:

    @Rob in CT: “I’d be pretty pissed off if I was told that, regardless of who the politician was. Because it’s a raw deal. ”

    But not to worry; the GOP has things in store which will make the present situation look pretty darn good.

  52. DRS says:

    Well, I assume then that any executives who attended the event also got docked a day’s pay too, right? After all, if they’re standing around listening to speeches, they’re not working either.

  53. An Interested Party says:

    Well, I assume then that any executives who attended the event also got docked a day’s pay too, right?

    The rules are different for executives…just ask Mitt Romney…