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Member's Press Release

Release Date: 05/25/2011
Contact: Mike Caputo - (304) 340-3249

House Majority Whip Mike Caputo

House Majority Whip: Stanford Study Linking Union Participation, Safety Noteworthy

House Majority Whip Mike Caputo said a very timely Stanford University study released today clearly illustrates the vital link between union participation and mine safety.

"The Stanford University report demonstrates very clearly that there is a union safety effect in our nation's underground coal mines. That's something that, frankly, most miners already know,” Caputo, D-Marion, said. “And it explains why some nonunion companies that don't pay attention to safety have big turnover problems and why it's hard to get jobs at union-represented companies that are safety-conscious, with local union safety committees at work in the mines every shift.

The study, conducted by Alison D. Morantz, professor of law and John A. Wilson Distinguished Faculty Scholar at Stanford Law School, concluded that “unionization predicts a substantial and significant decline in traumatic mining injuries and fatalities.”

Caputo, who is international vice president of the United Mine Workers District 31, said one troubling aspect brought to light by this report is the discrepancies the author discusses in reporting injuries between union and nonunion mines.

“This, too, is something miners already know, but it is very difficult to prove because of intimidation by irresponsible companies,” he said.

"All injuries, regardless of severity, which occur in West Virginia and which cause a miner to see a doctor or lose time at work are supposed to be reported to both the Federal Mine Safety and Health Administration and the West Virginia Office of Miner's Health, Safety and Training. Failure to do so is a violation of the law.

“My hope is the Board of Coal Mine Health and Safety will look very closely at this study and report back to the Legislature on its findings.”

The study can be downloaded at http://bit.ly/jI9FXL ..


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