Promoting Safety through Solidarity

By Folio, Sam | International Musician, May 2010 | Go to article overview

Promoting Safety through Solidarity


Folio, Sam, International Musician


I am at a funeral home in my birthplace, Clarksburg, West Virginia, as this issue goes to press. I am here for the saddest of reasons-services for my mother who lived to almost 87 years of age. As I make the preparations for the services, I am struck by the number of folks wearing West Virginia University (WVU) paraphernalia and sports gear celebrating the successful Big East football season and the stellar season netted by the WVU basketball team and their coach, as they made it to the Final Four.

I smile as I see signs around town for the Frank Loria scholarship dinner with special guest Bob Huggins, West Virginia Mountaineers coach and former WVU basketball star. Huggins received his undergraduate degree in health education under my advisement and his master's degree, also with my tutelage, as I was his principal professor at WVU. I also have fond memories of my former next door neighbor Frank Loria, two-time all-American at Virginia Tech, and I remember his early demise in the Marshall University plane crash that decimated most of the football team where Frankie was teaching. I recall the many touch and tackle football games we had on the vacant lot adjoining our homes. Frankie was a tough cookie and I would like to think those youthful scrimmages contributed to his successful football career.

I hesitate to reminisce, but it is these happy times that lead me to a most sad time and memories, as my family and my wife Monica's family have many fine stories to tell. It is our obligation as members of the labor movement to recall the reasons for unions and look with a critical eye towards black marks in our history where non-union mine operators have total disregard for human life.

An April 2 article in the Corporate News section of the Wall Street Journal speaks to Massy Energy's CEO, Don Blankenship, as he defends the company's safety practices with such irresponsible statements as,"I have been here for 28 years and we have the best of safety records ..."

Last week President Obama called the incident a failure, first and foremost, of management, Blankenship, this is you. …

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