After the good news headlines of the morning papers, reality hits like a twelve pound sledgehammer. Twelve miners dead. Three hour delay in relaying this information to twelve families, while mine officials try to figure out how to spin reality, after relaying misinformation to those families.
I've checked numerous stories since news of this tragedy broke, but is the only one to carry the reason for these tragic deaths. The lede is buried, of course, but if you read far enough down into the story, you come to this bit: "We could get pulled over for speeding and pay more than that,'' said Smith, who said the mine was nonunion. ``The problem with the current laws is enforcement." The spokeman for the UMWA has it wrong, as well. The problem is that too many mines are nonunion. Earlier stories quoted a convenience store owner selling some cigars to a miner who didn't smoke, but was taking it up because he wasn't sure how much longer he was going to live working at the Sago Mine.
These twelve miners were killed by company negligence--of that there is little doubt, in my opinion. But they were also killed because in the last twenty-five years, protections for workers have been eviscerated; that has been the real legacy of the glorious Reagan Revolution. These men also died, however, because they did not have a union to protect them.
"An injury to One, is an injury to All"