Appalachian Citizens’ Law Center operates the Mine Safety Project, which works to improve safety conditions for miners in the Appalachian coalfields. Primarily, ACLC represents miners who suffer workplace discrimination for making safety complaints. These cases are brought under Section 105(c) of the Mine Act, which makes it illegal for a company to retaliate against a miner through harassment, discipline or discharge for engaging in protected safety activities on the job.
The Law Center has recently received local and national press coverage over a series of mine safety whistleblower cases in western and eastern Kentucky. Dave Jamieson at the Huffington Post has been diligent at covering these cases, and we have provided them below.
Each case illustrates the lengths to which companies will go to fight mine safety procedures and mine safety whistleblowers, and emphasizes the need for organizations like the Appalachian Citizens’ Law Center to stand up and fight for miners’ safety rights.
ACLC has also supported strengthening mine safety legislation and regulations. We have written op-eds and issued press releases that highlight mine safety concerns. In 2014, the state of Kentucky made drastic cuts to its mine safety budget, and reduced the annual number of mine inspections from 6 to 4. Our director, Steve Sanders, penned an op-ed for the Lexington Herald-Leader that outlines why this is dangerous and negligent. That op-ed can be found here: http://www.kentucky.com/2014/04/09/3186321_ky-voices-stephen-sanders-says.html?rh=1
The decline of coal production in central Appalachia has a negative effect on miners’ safety: jobs are more scarce, therefore miners are more likely to be hesitant to speak up about mine safety violations out of fear of losing their job in a time when many miners are out of work. State governments are increasingly using the decline of coal production in central Appalachia as an excuse to cut mine safety budgets. This will inevitably result in more injuries and fatalities. It is our mission to stand up for these miners and whistleblowers.