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News Wednesday, Apr 6 2016

CEO Who Pressured Employees To Back Romney Hosts Cruz Fundraiser, But Balks At An Endorsement

Apr 06, 2016

Ted Cruz is today attending a fundraiser hosted by Murray Energy Corporation CEO and former Mitt Romney endorser Robert Murray.

Murray took heat back in 2012 when he allegedly pressured his employees to support and contribute to Romney.

Cruz is probably hoping he’ll benefit from the same perk, but Murray is hilariously declining to actually endorse Cruz, despite hosting the fundraiser on his behalf .

This much is clear: The rumors of #EventuallyTrump’s demise have been greatly exaggerated.


2012: Coal-Magnate Bob Murray Fundraised For Romney, had A History Of Unsafe Business Practices, Political Coercion

Romney Hosted Fundraiser With Coal Magnate And Climate Change Denier Bob Murray, Whose Unsafe Business Practices Resulted In The 2007 Deaths Of Nine Miners. According to the Huffington Post, “Mitt Romney teamed up with controversial coal magnate Bob Murray for a fundraiser Thursday in the same Wheeling, WVa., hotel where Murray last fall hosted a similar event for Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s failed presidential bid. Murray, CEO of Murray Energy, the nation’s largest independent, family-owned coal producer, is an outspoken climate-change denier who captured national attention in 2007, following a collapse at his company’s Crandall Canyon mine in Utah that killed six miners and three rescue workers. Murray Energy’s history of unsafe practices has resulted in hundreds of citations and millions in fines. Final reports on the Crandall Canyon collapse cited unsafe practices. Murray blamed an earthquake.” [Huffington Post, 05/04/12]

Murray Coerced Its Salaried Workers To Contribute To Mitt Romney’s Campaign; The Company Reportedly Threatened To Block Bonuses And Tracked Workers’ Contributions To The Campaign. According to New Republic, “The accounts of two sources who have worked in managerial positions at the firm, and a review of letters and memos to Murray employees, suggest that coercion may also explain Murray staffers’ financial support for Romney. Murray, it turns out, has for years pressured salaried employees to give to the Murray Energy political action committee (PAC) and to Republican candidates chosen by the company. Internal documents show that company officials track who is and is not giving. The sources say that those who do not give are at risk of being demoted or missing out on bonuses, claims Murray denies.” [New Republic, 10/4/12]

Federal Investigation On Crandall Canyon’s Collapsed Mine Cited Bob Murray’s “Volatile Behavior” During The Crisis. According to the Associated Press, “Federal prosecutors are considering criminal charges. MSHA cited Murray Energy affiliate Genwal Resources Inc. for negligence. Engineers Agapito Associates Inc. of Grand Junction, Colo., was cited for “reckless disregard.” The companies were fined a total of $1.8 million, the largest fines levied on a U.S. coal-mining operation. […] The MSHA report heavily criticized Bob Murray’s volatile behavior during the crisis, especially at daily briefings for family members, where he ‘frequently became very irate and would start yelling,’ even making young children cry, it said. He told family members that ‘the media is telling you lies’ and ‘the union is your enemy.’” [Associated Press, MSNBC, 08/06/08]

2015: Federal Regulators Accused Bob Murray Of Attempting To Silence Mine Safety Whistleblowers

Federal Regulators Alleged Murray Energy Created An Atmosphere Of Intimidation

Federal Regulators Accused Murray Energy Of Attempting To Silence Mine Safety Whistleblowers. According to International Business Times, “Now, more than a year later, federal regulators are accusing Murray Energy of attempting to silence mine safety whistleblowers. The U.S. Labor Department alleges that the company interfered with miners’ rights under the Mine Safety and Health Act to lodge confidential safety reports with federal regulators. In a complaint, regulators say Murray Energy chided 3,500 workers for making too many confidential safety complaints to regulators and — at one of the mines — threatened to retaliate by closing down operations. Alan Bailey attended one of Bob Murray’s meetings. ‘They want you to bring the complaints to them, and there’s times that we have,’ says the 58-year-old miner, who has spent eight years on the safety committee at the Marshall County Mine. ‘We told them and told them, and they didn’t do anything about it.’” [International Business Times, 11/4/15]

Labor Department Lawyers Accused Murray Of Creating An “Atmosphere Of Intimidation.” According to International Business Times, “According to documents obtained by International Business Times, lawyers with the Labor Department criticized Murray in October for personally creating ‘an atmosphere of intimidation’ at five West Virginia mines. Regulators expounded on their accusations in a post-hearing brief that stems from a lawsuit they filed against the company in July.” [International Business Times, 11/4/15]

Workers At Five Unionized Mines Made Anonymous Complaints With The Labor Department

Workers At Five Unionized Murray Energy Mines Made Anonymous Safety Complaints With The Labor Department. According to International Business Times, “According to the Labor Department, Murray Energy’s frustrations with the number of anonymous safety complaints at the mines began shortly after the company purchased them from Consol Energy in December 2013. The operations, all in northern West Virginia, are known today as the Ohio County Mine, Marshall County Mine, Monongalia County Mine, Marion County Mine and Harrison County Mine. Workers there are represented by the United Mine Workers of America. Most of Murray Energy’s other mines are non-union.” [International Business Times, 11/4/15]

Bob Murray Responded By Personally Presiding Over Mandatory Meetings At The Mines To Inform Workers Why They Were There

Over The Next Few Months, Bob Murray Personally Traveled To The Mines To Preside Over Mandatory Meetings To Remind Workers Why They Were There.According to International Business Times, “Over the next few months, Murray personally traveled to each of the mines to preside over mandatory meetings with hundreds of workers at a time. A hallmark of the executive’s hands-on management style, the quarterly mass meetings are known as ‘awareness meetings.’ Murray has said the gatherings remind workers ‘why they are here and keep them focused.’” [International Business Times, 11/4/15]

Murray’s Speeches Reminded Workers Of The Lack Of Well-Paid Jobs In Their Area And Instructed Workers That They Had To Notify Management Each Time They Filed A Safety Complaint With The Federal Government

Murray’s Speeches Showed PowerPoint Presentations That “Urged Workers To Reflect On The Lack Of Well-Paid Jobs In The Areas Surrounding The Mines” And Instructed Workers That They Must Notify Management Each Time They Made A Safety Complaint To The Government. According to International Business Times, “During Murray’s speeches, the company showed nearly identical PowerPoint presentations to workers. Each of them brought attention to the industry’s struggles and urged workers to reflect on the lack of well-paid jobs in the areas surrounding the mines; one of the slides slams the Obama administration for ‘destroying coal’; another notes that only the ‘lowest coal in any sourcing region will survive in the current coal marketplace’; another one, at the Marion County Mine, criticizes workers’ productivity, saying ‘employees are not hustling.’ Each of the presentations also gave instructions about making confidential complaints: Workers were told they were free to make so-called 103(g) complaints to the government, but that they were required to notify management each time they did so.” [International Business Times, 11/4/15]

Audio Recordings Showed Murray Threatening That Mines Would Be Shut Down If Safety Complaints Continued

Bob Murray Told Workers That Safety Complaints Only Hurt Them Because It Would Lead To Mine Shut Downs And That “If You Want To Fight Inside, Let Me Tell You, I’ll Go On To A Better Coal Mine And We’ll Close This One.” According to International Business Times, “At the Marshall County Mine, a worker made a covert audio recording of Bob Murray’s speech. While safety complaints filed by miners did, in fact, reveal numerous violations, Murray suggested otherwise. ‘This all hurts you,’ Murray said, according to the recording. ‘When we’re fighting inside and we get shut down because of a 103(g) complaint because we’re mad at somebody in management, that just hurts you. It just hurts you. If there was an unsafe condition, and we got shut down, I don’t have a complaint. But what’s happening is that MSHA is finding negative findings. … MSHA’s fed up with it too.’ He added, ‘And if you want to fight inside, let me tell you, I’ll go on to a better coal mine and we’ll close this one.’” [International Business Times,11/4/15]

Murray Suspended Workers Who Used Profanity To Protest A Bonus Program They Objected To Over Safety Concerns

Murray Energy Instituted A Bonus Program That Awarded Workers Based On The Amount Of Coal They Extracted, Over A Union Vote Opposing It Over Safety Concerns.According to International Business Times, “In late 2013, Murray Energy Corp., one of the nation’s largest coal companies, took the mine over from a previous owner. Shortly thereafter, the company tried to implement a controversial production-based bonus program. Workers at the mine, who are represented by the United Mine Workers of America union, voted it down. But the company went ahead and adopted the plan anyway — in violation of its labor contract, according to the union. Murray Energy disagrees and maintains it followed the agreement. Under the program, workers received bonuses based on the amount of coal they extracted. Many opposed it on safety grounds, including Stolzenfels and Harrison, according to court filings.” [International Business Times, 1/25/16]

Workers Were Given The Option Of “Opting Out” Of The Program By Writing Void And Returning Their Bonus Checks. According to International Business Times, “Meanwhile, the company told miners who disagreed with the plan that they could opt out of it by writing ‘void’ on their checks and returning them.” [International Business Times, 1/25/16]

Two Workers Were Suspended, With “Intent To Discharge,” After They Wrote “Void” And “Kiss My Ass Bob” And “Eat S—Bob” On Their Checks. According to International Business Times, “In February 2015, Harrison and Stolzenfels took this route — but not before adding some profanity-laced flair. Harrison’s check, for $11.58, read, ‘Void Void Kiss My Ass Bob.’ Stolzenfels’ check, for $3.22, read ‘Void Eat S— Bob.’ The company responded by suspending both of them with ‘intent to discharge,’ citing the employee handbook’s policy against profanity. […]An arbitrator sided with the company, upholding the suspensions. That’s when the miners turned to the courts. And so far, they’ve had better luck there. According to experts, the cases underline the broad speech protections afforded to workers when they’re in engaged in labor or safety disputes — protections they might otherwise be less likely to receive.” [International Business Times, 1/25/16]

The Suspensions May Be In Violation Of National Labor Law. According to International Business Times, “The National Labor Relations Act, the federal bedrock of American labor law, gives workers the right to engage in ‘protected concerted activity’ — to join together with one or more co-workers and speak out over pay and working conditions without facing retaliation. ‘In this context, workers have more rights than they would otherwise,’ Cornell said. For example, an angry worker who comes into the office and fires off an expletive at his or her boss is unlikely to be protected by the National Labor Relations Act. But if that worker drops an f-bomb or two while she’s complaining with co-workers about say, long hours or unsafe working conditions, her speech is more likely to be protected. A separate federal law that covers mining safety offers comparable protections.” [International Business Times, 1/25/16]

Published: Apr 6, 2016

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