I need to say this up front.  The article you’re reading now was written by someone who is a miner’s kid, someone who lost his father in a mining accident before I was born.  My father was a miner’s kid from Kentucky, and he never really knew his parents either because they both died when my dad was very young.

The only thing I really know about my grandparents on my father’s side is something that an aunt said on a cassette tape that was recorded and sent to me by a cousin years ago before my aunt, my father’s only sibling, passed away — they were both very sick before they died.  It wouldn’t surprise me if my grandfather Miller had black lung disease from working in the mines.

Robert E. Murray

That’s the end of my “disclosure statement.”  Now, allow me to talk a bit about Robert E. Murray, the CEO of Murray Energy, an Ohio-based coal company, the largest privately owned coal company in the U.S. with subsidiaries spread across the country — including Utah.

Murray is accustomed to being in the news, and he jumped back into the spotlight last week, the day after the presidential election, when he followed through on a threat to let employees go if President Obama were re-elected.  He even saw fit to say a lengthy prayer asking for forgiveness just before laying off 54 people at his subsidiary American Coal, with another 102 let go at Utah American Energy.  He blamed a “war on coal” by Obama, although if you ask many energy analysts they’ll say that the coal-mining business is suffering because of competition from low-cost natural gas and rising production costs of coal.

WASHINGTON POST:  After Obama reelection, Murray Energy CEO reads prayer, announces layoffs

The political sour grapes are hitting the fan, and it’s not helping the image of companies like Murray’s or Papa John’s Pizza — where founder and CEO John Schnatter said the cost to his business of the Affordable Care Act would likely result in the cost of a pizza to the customers going up 14 cents, and/or reducing work hours for employees.

The word “boycott” is being seen a lot more lately on the web now when it comes to any mention in comments about Papa John’s.

So, just how many more Robert E. Murrays are out there?  How many more people are or will be losing their jobs or seeing their hours cut because there just aren’t quite enough millions being made?

Murray’s story is particularly sickening.  The next time you see him whining on the television with some bogus story about the president’s re-election literally costing people their jobs, please take the words coming out of his mouth with a grain of salt.

This is, after all, the man whose face was plastered all over TV screens around the nation and the world when unsafe mining techniques — known as “retreat mining” when columns of earth are left to hold up a mountain — were practiced at Utah’s Crandall Canyon Mine, resulting in a collapse in August of 2007 that registered 3.9 on the Richter scale and claimed the lives of six miners and three rescue workers in the days that followed.

The Crandall Canyon Mine collapsed after numerous safety violations were found.  The men who were killed and their families paid a heavy price, due in large part to safety regulations not being followed — all to make bigger bucks.

Robert Murray was front and center through it all, defending himself and his company, blaming the collapse on an earthquake (when the earthquake was actually the mountain collapsing), boasting about all the things he was doing personally to pull the miners out of the hole that came down on them to any camera that happened to be recording at the time, and coming across more like a clown in the process.

I remember it all very well, because I was seeing his mug on the national and local news on a daily basis, and I was seeing his bombastic temper.

It’s the same temper that he’s been showing before and after the 2012 election.  But don’t take my word for it.  See him for yourself, and while you’re at it travel back in time to see and hear the emotions coming from the families of the men who were killed at the Crandall Canyon Mine as they gave sworn testimony in front of Congress back in 2007.

I feel for them.  I feel sorry for Robert E. Murray, and every other joker out there like him.  How many jobs could he have personally saved if he’d seen fit to pump a bit less money into a failed political campaign?


2 thoughts on “How many more Robert E. Murrays are out there?

  1. John, John, John,

    All of this over 154 jobs? Layoffs are not fair. They suck. And, yes, Murray is most likely an uncaring jerk. And I get that this hits you personally, so you want to make a big deal of this.

    But something bothers me about this piece. While I agree that Murray is off his rocker for blaming Obama for these layoffs, I find it difficult to believe that you could be this upset about 154 jobs.

    I would like you to present your opinion about a man who was responsible for a COUPLE THOUSAND job layoffs, home foreclosures, and subsequent closures of local support businesses in one fell swoop. All for his own gain. I would think that this man would be a more-worthy target for such a story.

    How about it, John? Will you write about how President Barrack Obama wasted 30 years of study, and two years of verifying of a license application by the NRC, by shutting down the Yucca Mountain Project in 2010? How he has placed many highly skilled people in positions to either make less (up to 50% for those with jobs; which helps Obama’s employment statistics but certainly is not good for those underemployed) or have no work at all? How many of these people have either had to uproot and move their families sometimes across country to find work? How many have drained their 401k and savings to keep their homes, or to pay bills?

    How about it?

    I am just amazed this story was never an issue during the election. Yes, I am personally involved with this issue. I was jobless and, yes, basically homeless because of Obama’s decision. I am now making 28% less than I did two years ago with more bills than before. Obama stated he would use sound science to determine whether to approve the Yucca Mountain Project. He lied. I will always take his words with a grain of salt.


    1. Terry, Terry, Terry,

      No, this is not “just” over 156 jobs. That’s why I asked the question in the title, “How many are there” like this guy? He’s just a symptom, he’s not the problem in its entirety. Add up all the uncaring jerks like Murray who pull this crap in the private sector, and it’d be interesting to compare that number to the uncaring jerks in our government, regardless of party affiliation.

      You present a compelling argument, and it’s not that I haven’t looked at the Yucca Mountain story myself before thanks to previous statements from you. If we can trust Wikipedia … http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yucca_Mountain_nuclear_waste_repository

      We’re talking on the Yucca Mountain issue about a political football that’s been kicked around for years, from state to state. Utah’s kicked it around for years itself, with objections coming from both sides of the aisle. It’s just been kicked around longer and gotten farther in Nevada and, yeah, it’s a mess.

      But why settle for me writing about it? I’ve published a “guest opinion” here before, I’m open to various points of view. If you’d like to tackle this one yourself, feel free. I know you’re up to the task.

      As you said … “how about it?”

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