Mother Jones is often quoted as saying, "Pray for the Dead, Fight like hell for the Living." The 25 miners who lost their lives in the Upper Big Branch mining disaster call us to both prayer and activism.
We must pray for the miners still missing, the miners who have lost their colleagues and the families of those killed. Let us pray for them individually and through our congregations. April 28 is Workers Memorial Day, a time to remember those who have lost their lives in the workplace. Consider using IWJ's Litany for Workers Memorial Day (download the PDF here) in one of your congregation's services later this month.
We must also fight to protect those who work in dangerous workplaces like mines. The Upper Big Branch mine is operated by the Performance Coal Company, a non-union company operated by Massey Energy. In the last 22 years, the company has committed over 1,000 health and safety violations. Since the beginning of March 2010, the company has had 12 serious ventilation violations, including 8 for failing to follow the ventilation plan. This company had a pattern of violating health and safety guidelines. Such patterns of violations kill and maim workers.
There are two ways we can fight for other miners and workers.
1) Support the rights of workers to organize unions. Union mines are safer than non-union mines because the union plays a role in enforcing the safety guidelines. Unfortunately, like many other workers, miners often fear losing their jobs or retaliation for joining a union. Miners and other workers need labor law reform, like the Employee Free Choice Act. Send a letter today and urge your senator to support efforts to reform the nation's labor laws so workers can join labor unions without fear and harassment. Click here.
2) Support budget requests for more mine inspectors. The Department of Labor needs additional funds for mine inspectors as well as other enforcement staff for the Wage and Hour Division and OSHA. Interfaith Worker Justice supports the expansion of these important enforcement agencies. Send a letter to your congressional representative urging him or her to fully fund the Department of Labor's budget requests for additional enforcement staff. Click here.
Thank you for your prayers and your action.
Interfaith Worker Justice
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