Monday, July 18, 2011

Right to work states are US' leading workplace killers: Montana #1

Montana's rate for worker fatalities (10.8/100,000 workers) is more than three times the national average of 3.3/100,000, says an April press release printed in the Montana Standard. Dustin Bleizeffer of WyoFile brings this report in the Billings Gazette:
Wyoming’s workplace fatality rate improved from the worst in the nation — 17 fatalities per 100,000 workers in 2007 — to fourth worst in 2009, according to an AFL-CIO report, passing the “worst” distinction to Montana, Louisiana and North Dakota, where many drilling rigs migrated during the same period. But before Wyoming leaders and employers claim victory over such a poor past performance, safety officials are warning that workplace fatalities could spike again when drilling and construction activity returns to Wyoming. Last week, an iWatch investigative report, “'Model Workplaces’ Not Always Safe,” found that many companies across the nation that are enrolled in state-level Voluntary Protection Programs enjoy the benefit of fewer inspections but still were guilty of serious safety violations — many resulting in the death of workers..
A coal mine in Campbell County, Wyoming is a defendant in a case led by Spence Law Firm (an underwriter of Wyoming Public Radio):
The Spence Law Firm, working in association with the Michaels and Michaels law firm in Gillette, Wyoming, has filed a complaint against Wyoming corporation Western Fuels-Wyoming, Inc., (owner and operator of the Dry Fork Mine) and two of its employees. Negligence claims and other counts are also being brought against the mine employer, which fired Shawn Cunningham the day after he filed for Wyoming workers compensation benefits, in violation of public policy.
From WyoFile:
UnlikeWyoming’s coal mining industry, oil and gas companies work without borders and they do it without a clear set of safety ground-rules or certifications that are transferable from one drilling location to the next. “You can build all the policies you want, but if you don’t hold employees accountable for their actions,” the policies have little effect, said Denny Gladwin of Halliburton Services. “The legislature is very much a part of the Tea Party movement, and that’s good,” said Dallas Scholes of Williams Production RMT, who serves on WOGISA’s legislative committee.
Tim DeChristopher is Bidder 70, the climate activist arrested after taking part in a Bureau of Land Management auction. He appeared on DemocracyNow! in April where he called for young people to participate in a peaceful uprising:
In March, a federal jury convicted environmental activist Tim DeChristopher of two felony counts for disrupting the auction of more than 100,000 acres of federal land for oil and gas drilling. Last weekend he spoke at the Power Shift 2011 conference and urged youth climate activists to make more sacrifices.
Progressive author Chris Hedges appealed to us to get involved in Mr. DeChristopher's case in an article at TruthDig:
Tim DeChristopher is scheduled to be sentenced in a Salt Lake City courtroom by U.S. District Judge Dee Benson on July 26. He faces up to 10 years in prison and a $750,000 fine for fraudulently bidding in December 2008 on parcels of land, including areas around eastern Utah’s national parks, which were being sold off by the Bush administration to the oil and natural gas industry. As Bidder No. 70, he drove up the prices of some of the bids and won more than a dozen other parcels for $1.8 million.
DeChristopher writes in a July 15 article in Grist:
Grist readers probably already know that Massey Energy is one of the worst corporate criminals in the fossil fuel industry. The company's most visible recent outrage was the disaster that killed 29 miners in the Upper Big Branch mine in April of 2010. The governor of West Virginia at the time, Joe Manchin, commissioned an independent investigative panel that found that Massey operates in a "profoundly reckless manner."
Back to the Montana Standard article:
"Our work is never done when it comes to workplace safety - the tragedies in the last year at Massey Energy's Big Branch mine and the BP Gulf Coast oil rig have shown us that," said AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka. "But recently worker protections have come under attack by big business groups and Republicans claiming that we can't afford to protect American families. This Workers Memorial Day, we need to get one thing straight: Safety regulations don't kill jobs, but unsafe jobs do kill workers."
Environmental lawyer and activist, Robert Kennedy, Jr. wonders in The Nation why DeChristopher was arrested but that Massey Energy earth hater, Don Blankenship has not been.

Mountaintop removal mining or sage steppe removal mining: what's the difference again?

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