[caption id="attachment_5207" align="alignright" width="150" caption="Miner campaigning for black lung safety and compensation"]
My friend Chuck Nelson is a retired West Virginia underground coal miner. He works hard with Ohio Valley Environment Coalition to protect the beautiful mountains of West Virginia and to end mountaintop removal coal mining.
I was very sad to received this message from him:
“About a month ago, I went to take my Federal black lung test. I finally got my results back, which said that I had black lung, but I was not eligible for benefits, because I was not disabled because of my lungs. I guess one has to be on oxygen, or bed ridden, in order to qualify for benefits.“
Black lung – aka ‘Miner’s asthma’ is a lung disease contracted by breathing coal dust. Dust builds up inside the lungs, gradually reducing the miner’s ability to breathe. Chuck continues:
“I was not surprised to see that Wells Fargo is the ones that represents Massey Energy as a third party legal assistant, assisting Massey. Just another example of how Massey is linked up with these financial institutions. So I made a call to a man named John T. Deneault, who really got upset , when I questioned him about his organization involvement with such a rogue outfit as Massey Energy, trying to beat a miner who has given his life to this industry.”
“He got so mad, that he told me to never call him again.”
Historically, West Virginia’s miners fought hard for their safety against black lung and for compensation after Nov 1968, when 78 miners died in an explosion in Consolidation Coal's No. 9 mine at Farmington, WV. In February 1969 they went on wildcat strike. By early March, nearly every mine in West Virginia was shut down.
This led the state to pass a new law that, for the first time, strengthened safety rules and created compensation benefits for miners suffering pneumoconiosis from breathing coal dust. The federal Coal Mine Health and Safety Act passed at the end of the same year.
It’s a scandal that miner’s who have given their lives to the industry are being denied their rightful compensation.
Chuck has a suggestion for us:
“I think everyone who has the time, could call him and ask just why Wells Fargo are joining forces with Massey Energy, to continue to deprive workers of the things that they deserve, and have given their lives to.”
“If anyone is interested, again his name is John T. Deneault, claims consultant for Wells Fargo. His number is 304-556-1105, and his e-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org
“Ask him why his company is on the side of depriving underground miners the rights that they have so rightfully deserve, and black lung is a horrible death. His office probably isn't open during the weekends.”