In July, the U.S. Labor Department accused Murray Energy Corp. of violating the Mine Safety and Health Act.  According to the government’s complaint, Murray Energy intimidated employees into silence by threatening them if they reported safety violations in their mines; violations that, when reported, were found to include “fire hazards” and other “unsafe” conditions.

Murray Energy’s pattern of intimidation tactics spill over into politics too, as CREW has alleged to the FEC similar conduct pressuring employees to donate to the company’s Political Action Committee.

Murray Energy’s response to the reports of safety violations was to call their employees into mandatory “Awareness Meetings.”  In those meetings, Robert E. Murray, the Chief Executive Officer and President of Murray Energy, told the employees that these reports “hurt[] your company and job survival.”  Murray went on to threaten them, telling them that if they continued to file complaints, “I’ll go to a better coal mine and we’ll close this one.”  Just in case employees did not get the point, Murray would display power points slides asking his employees “to Think About Your Job Being Suddenly Gone,” and  warning the employees that there “Are No Jobs in this Area That Pay Anywhere Close to What is Paid” at the mine.

It wasn’t enough to silence its employees, however; as detailed in CREW’s complaint against the company to the FEC, Murray Energy also demanded its employees affirmatively aid the company’s political agenda.  According to CREW’s complaint, Robert Murray threatened employees with loss of their jobs if they failed to contribute to the company’s PAC.  The employees were told not to worry though, the company would compensate them for the contributions they made—despite the fact that it is illegal for the company to donate to the PAC, which used the funds to make contributions to presidential and congressional candidates. A separate complaint and lawsuit allege similar intimidating tactics.

Despite the seriousness of the allegations, CREW’s complaint has been pending with the FEC for more than three years. It’s past time for the FEC to stand up and join the Labor Department in protecting Murray Energy’s employees from illegal intimidation.

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