What’s totally shocking to me is the way the families of the miners were manipulated by the mining company and by the governor. I’d been checking in for news about the mine explosion ever since it was first reported. I’ve never lived in WV, but I know the area pretty well and am fond of it. I just happened to switch to CNN at around 11:50 as the “good news” that 12 of the 13 miners had survived was being reported. Thinking that I could use some good news for a change, I decided to stay up and watch what was happening, expecting rescued miners, cheering crowds, etc. I watched until 4:30 AM, mad as Hell, until the end of the governor’s conference and the admission that they’d known within 20 minutes of the first report that the miners were alive, that there was only one survivor. I strongly suspect that, because the press and TV reporters were there, they let the families believe their family members were alive and Ok so that the truth wouldn’t get out until the public had given up and gone to bed, and they could spin the news however they wanted. After all, the whole country was watching.
The truth is that the families were HERDED into the church to wait for a press conference supposed to be held “any minute now.” Of course many of them had been praying there, for days, for the safety of their loved ones, perfectly aware of the odds because they know what mining accidents are like. Then they heard that a miracle had happened. The Governor himself announced that a miracle had happened and that, in spite of dire predictions all day because of the carbon monoxide levels in the mines, 12 of the 13 miners had survived. A line of ambulances formed at the mine, and the hospital was on alert, ready to receive any miners who were injured. One ambulance went to the hospital with someone inside, and that was it. There were reports from the hospital. There was a report that there were triage crews at the mine. There was a report that the miners would be brought to the church, undoubtedly just a device to keep the families waiting there. The press and TV crews were not allowed into the church, or anywhere near the entrance of the mine. At first family members went in and out of the church, being interviewed by reporters. That stopped fairly soon. The families were pretty clearly being held inside the church, waiting for that press release, which finally happened just before 3 AM. When people then left the church and stopped to talk to reporters, suddenly an army of armed police appeared, shoving reporters and family members around, trying to break this up.
I hope I’m being at least moderately lucid; I don’t usually stay up that late and I’m dead tired today. I’m still mad as Hell, and my burning question is, WHERE WAS THE UNION? Through this entire fiasco, I saw no sign of any union workers; even if the company that owns the mine has managed to get rid of the union, shouldn’t someone from the UMW at least been present there? This mine had over 40 safety violations, and an accident was bound to happen sooner or later. What’s happened to the United Mine Workers? I remember John L. Lewis and the union’s struggle to do something about company towns, company stores that kept the workers in debt for life, and, above all, safe working conditions. I looks to me that things are as bad as they were in 1890 when the union started and they’ll have to start all over again. This isn’t a very good sign for the rest of us, either.