BP #11 West Virginia Coal Baron Gets Prison Sentence

NY Times

This article comes from the town of Upper Big Branch, West Virginia where one of the larger coal mines in the country was located. Six years ago there was an explosion in the mine which took the lives of 29 of the miners that were working it at the time. A lot of the blame was put towards the mines chief executive, Donald Blankenship. For years the workers had complained about the unsafe and hazardous work conditions they were under including certain illegal aspects from where they shouldn’t have been. According to the article Mr. Blankenship was a very work oriented manager which for him apparently included getting the job done as quickly as possible without the concern for his employees health or safety. He required reports every half hour during working hours and was once quoted saying “this is a game of money” showing exactly how he feels towards the safety of his workers.

According to Bayles, Mr. Blankenship would lie somewhere in the region of being paternalistic in the way he managed his business. The part that he stretched morally away from being paternalistic is for the fact that he was not acting in the best interest of his employees. Without that trust from the fiduciary model or even a mutual respect like that of the contract model, the mine workers were unable to control any of the situations that Blankeship put them in. As they reported unsafe conditions many times before, it usually was swept under the rug most likely due to Donald Blankenship being part of big money. The industry even referred to him as King Coal. The relationship between him and his workers was weak to say the least and by not working together to eliminate dangers in the workplace, he shows a real lack of humility in the ways of paternalism and by putting himself in the position of having the “only say” in what happens.

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One thought on “BP #11 West Virginia Coal Baron Gets Prison Sentence

  1. I agree with what you are saying. You and your boss should at least have some sort of relationship where you can go to him/her in case you have a problem. I this situation it seems that Blankenship ran the company without any concern for the safety of his workers.

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