Coal Miners Forced to Attend Romney Rally: “Attendance at the event was mandatory, but no one was forced to attend.”

28 Aug

From Ryan Cooper at the Washington Monthly comes this especially pointed tale of workplace coercion (h/t Douglas Edwards).

So the Romney campaign visited a coal mine on August 14th, for a speech with a bunch of suitably dirty miners standing behind him, with his podium bearing a placard that read “Coal Country Stands with Mitt.” But apparently it should have said “or else” at the end:

The Pepper Pike company that owns the Century Mine told workers that attending the Aug. 14 Romney event would be both mandatory and unpaid, a top company official said Monday morning in a West Virginia radio interview.

A group of employees who feared they’d be fired if they didn’t attend the campaign rally in Beallsville, Ohio, complained about it to WWVA radio station talk show host David Blomquist. Blomquist discussed their beefs on the air Monday with Murray Energy Chief Financial Officer Rob Moore.

Moore told Blomquist that managers “communicated to our workforce that the attendance at the Romney event was mandatory, but no one was forced to attend.” He said the company did not penalize no-shows.

Because the company’s mine had to be shut down for “safety and security” reasons during Romney’s visit, Moore confirmed workers were not paid that day.

Apparently they’re even keeping lists of people who are politically active:

“Yes, we were in fact told that the Romney event was mandatory and would be without pay, that the hours spent there would need to be made up my non-salaried employees outside of regular working hours, with the only other option being to take a pay cut for the equivalent time,” the employees told Blomquist. “Yes, letters have gone around with lists of names of employees who have not attended or donated to political events.”

16 Responses to “Coal Miners Forced to Attend Romney Rally: “Attendance at the event was mandatory, but no one was forced to attend.””

  1. Arker August 28, 2012 at 9:35 pm #

    This is classic. Mitt *still* has to bribe or coërce people to show up to make it appear he has support. The Ron Paul rally yesterday in South Carolina saw about 10,000 attendees, none paid or coërced, and I think the number 8,000 today in Tampa.

  2. Andrew August 29, 2012 at 8:50 am #

    Are there any federal laws about this? A quick Google doesn’t turn up much.

    I did remember this from Ames & Mike Elk about Oregon (not Ohio) though:

    “Political propagandizing is a heated issue in Oregon, which passed SB-519 in the summer of 2009, a bill placing restrictions on corporations’ ability to coerce employees to attend political meetings and vote the way the corporation tells them to vote. In late December 2009—just before SB-519 was to go into effect—the US Chamber of Commerce filed a lawsuit with Associated Oregon Industries to block the bill from becoming law. A similar bill in Wisconsin was struck down in November in a federal court. However, the Chamber’s lawsuit in Oregon was thrown out in May 2010 by US District Court Judge Michael Mosman on procedural grounds, leaving open the possibility that it could still be struck down.”

    http://www.thenation.com/article/160062/big-brothers-thought-control-koch

    I know US labor law sucks but I really thought something like this would be blatantly illegal.

  3. Aliothemage August 29, 2012 at 9:29 am #

    What is wrong? Don’t you like your job? get another job,nobody is forcing you to attend that fucking rally at gunpoint

    This is the reason why every american libertarian I personally know supports Romney over Obama…you could moderate the conservative over social issues(ex abortion) but you will never have a chance to moderate a democrat into accepting economic logic and laws

    • Andrew August 29, 2012 at 10:02 am #

      “nobody is forcing you to attend that fucking rally at gunpoint”

      People need income in order to live. By threatening to deprive their workers of a source of income for blatantly unjustifiable reasons, Pepper Pike is effectively coercing them.

      Also, armed authorities (federal, state, local and private) are actively separating the general populace from the means of sustenance at gunpoint. They do this by protecting the disproportionately large amounts of “private property” the elites have laid claim to, making the majority dependent on them for the most basic necessities of life. This social order came into being through brute force (look up the English enclosures as an example) and is maintained using officially sanctioned violence and threats of violence.

      In this wider social context, I don’t believe we are asking too much in wanting to ban the practice of employers leasing out their employees as political props–even if the employees are not directly coerced at gunpoint.

      • Arker August 29, 2012 at 12:53 pm #

        As much as I feel Aliothemage is a troll (no libertarian I know would even consider voting for Romney, he’s just Obama in drag) the issue isnt quite as clearcut as you make it. Ideally all economic relations should be strictly voluntary, and if we lived in that context it really would not a problem to take that hard line position. Unfortunately we dont live in a libertarian world and current economic conditions are so distorted by political action that economic relations are often less than 100% voluntary, but the solution needs to be to move more in that direction, rather than away from it.

      • Blinkenlights der Gutenberg September 2, 2012 at 11:55 am #

        Arker, there is no such thing as a kind of “voluntary” in which it is acceptable to leverage economic power to force people to attend political rallies. Would it be better if “volunteers” had merely been paid to attend? What about just paying them to vote?

    • Pathman August 29, 2012 at 11:38 am #

      Quite the little authoritarian there aren’t you? This is coercion plain and simple. Do as they say or they will punish you economically. No big deal, get another job. There are no fucking jobs.

    • David Kaib August 30, 2012 at 12:30 pm #

      Statist. If a gun is held to your head you still have a choice. You could voluntarily choose to die rather than attend. No one is physically dragging you there. Why must you infringe on my FREEEEDUM!!!!!

      • jp grace October 10, 2012 at 7:56 pm #

        there really ought to be a law on the books that states: you cannot keep or regain your FREEEEDUM until you can spell the word! i guess it’s true that trolls can’t spell or use grammar appropriately. how can you call yourself an american when you can’t even speak or write the language? just sad…

  4. Jer Gee August 29, 2012 at 9:36 pm #

    With more wind towers generating electricity the demand for coal is reduced. Now will coal miners reeducate toward green energy thus breathing cleaner air?

    • PhilPerspective August 30, 2012 at 12:57 pm #

      What’s funny, in a black humor way, is that it’s natural gas that’s killing King Coal, not wind power. And King Coal, at least publicly, doesn’t want to admit it.

  5. Robert Pavlick September 25, 2012 at 6:29 pm #

    If this is true at all, and the AFLCIO is investigating it, I guess it’s not much different than what happened here in Westport, CT when the Westport police were not paid for protecting the President during a posh $35,800 per head fundraiser here in Connecticut, Aug 6th at the residence of film mogul Weinstein at his Beachside Avenue home. Why should Republicans in the Town of Westport have to foot the bill with their tax dollars ???????

    “Joseloff, a Democrat who did not attend the $35,800 per head Weinstein fundraiser, said he has not received a response from Obama for America or Weinstein. “I didn’t expect that we would get repayment, but it was worthwhile to ask,” he said.”

    See :http://www.westportnow.com/index.php?/v2/comments/39624/

  6. Robert K Pavlick October 10, 2012 at 9:03 pm #

    Let’s get our priorities straight here people. I don’t think that you can even begin to compare rumors that coal miners may have been coerced to attend a Romney Rally, when news reports are coming in and hearings are currently being held stating that the US State Department ignored requests for help and backup at the Libyan Embassy and allowed four US citizens including a US Ambassador to be slaughtered.

    And as though that wasn’t bad enough and irresponsible enough, then Nancy Rice, Hillary Clinton, Secretary of State, and the President of the United States, Barack Obama, knowing full well within 24 hours what had really happened, go on and lie to the American People for almost a week and try to pass it off as an unanticipated event brought about by an anti-Islamic movie on YouTube. THIS IS INEXCUSABLE AND REPREHENSIBLE BEHAVIOR .

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

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    [...] Energy’s forcing its workers to support Romney. (Though I had already commented on this story back in August, McGillis has a lot of new [...]

  2. Rights of Labor v. Tyranny of Capital | Corey Robin - June 17, 2013

    […] to hang a poster informing workers of their rights is a violation of the employer’s liberty. Employers requiring employees to attend a rally in support of Mitt Romney—or otherwise instructing employees how to vote in an election—is an exercise of the […]

  3. Labor Day Readings | Corey Robin - September 1, 2014

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