Sometimes CEOs are brought to justice. It happened today in West Virginia. Donald L. Blankenship, the CEO of Massey Energy Company -- 29 of whose workers were killed at the Upper Big Branch mine in 2010, the deadliest in mining in the United States in decades -- was convicted today of conspiring to violate mine safety that stemmed from the accident. He faces prison time. Prosecutors showed Blankenship put pursuit of profit -- for himself and his company -- ahead of the safety of the miners who worked for him. The last full year before the explosion, he raked in nearly $18 million – partly by cutting corners on mine safety.
As Secretary of Labor in the 1990s I was in charge of mine safety, among other things. On several occasions I traveled miles underground to where mine workers were extracting coal or other metals. A century ago these jobs were killers, but they’ve become relatively safe now because of tough laws, frequent inspections, and stiff penalties. Blankenship disregarded the laws, scoffed at inspections, and viewed fines as costs of doing business. He is the most prominent American coal executive ever convicted of a charge connected to the death of miners. Nothing will bring them back, but justice has been done.
What do you think?