More miners receiving job reinstatements after registering complaints

By |  September 4, 2012

The number of requests for temporary reinstatements MSHA submitted on behalf of miners who filed discrimination complaints more than tripled from 2007-2009 to 2010-2012, increasing from 22 to 71. The numbers from the 2010-2012 period are through July 31, 2012.

Additionally, MSHA filed 70 complaints alleging mine safety discrimination from 2010 to 2012 – up from 39 for 2007-2009.

MSHA cites its own stepped-up efforts to educate miners about their safety and health rights, a more prompt and thorough investigation of discrimination complaints, and taking legal action with the help of department attorneys as key sources of the increases.

“All miners have the right to a safe workplace, and the right to identify hazardous conditions and refuse unsafe work without fear of discrimination or retaliation,” says Joe Main, MSHA’s assistant secretary of labor. “Since I arrived at MSHA nearly three years ago, one of my top goals has been to educate miners about those rights and protections, and to rigorously enforce them.”

Issues relating to fears of discrimination and retaliation came to light during congressional hearings held in the wake of the Upper Big Branch Mine disaster. Statements from miners and family members of the miners who died indicated that mine employees had been reluctant to speak out about safety conditions in existence before the April 2010 explosion, fearing retaliation by management. Evidence uncovered during MSHA’s investigation also supports those claims.

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