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Ohio Miners Felt Forced To Attend Romney Rally And Lost Wages As A Result

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Mitt Romney with coal miners (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Mitt Romney with coal miners (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

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While Mitt Romney appeared at an Ohio coal mine to push the message that “coal country stands with Mitt,” some miners say they felt forced by company managers to attend the GOP presidential candidate’s rally, and lost a day’s worth of pay in the process.

A group of workers at Century Mine in Beallsville claim that they feared they would lose their jobs if they did not attend Romney’s Aug. 14 campaign event. In emails to WWVA radio host David Blomquist, some miners also revealed that they were not paid for the time they spent at the rally, which company managers had deemed “mandatory.”

“We were in fact told that the Romney event was mandatory and would be without pay, that the hours spent there would need to be made up by non-salaried employees outside of regular working hours, with the only other option being to take a pay cut for the equivalent time,” said an unnamed worker in an email to Blomquist. “Yes, letters have gone around with lists of names of employees who have not attended or donated to political events.”

Rob Moore, chief financial officer of Murray Energy Corporation, which owns Century Mine, appeared on Blomquist’s radio talk show to refute the allegations. While Moore confirmed that the mine was closed on the day of Romney’s rally because the company’s “management people wanted to attend the event and [Murray Energy] could not have people underground during Romney’s visit,” attendance was not required by the company.

“There were no workers that were forced to attend the event,” said Moore. “We had managers that communicated to our work force that the attendance at the Romney event was mandatory, but no one was forced to attend the event. We had a pre-registration list. And employees were asked to put their names on a pre-registration list because they could not get into the event unless they were pre-registered and had a name tag to enter the premises”

Yet, some employees claim that this list was not created for registration purposes, but to keep records of which workers were present at the event.

“There are lists that go around if you are the good people or the bad people, that means if you go to these dinners or not,” said another Century mine worker in a separate email to Blomquist. “At this point, I need my income, jobs are hard to find. But it is wrong what we were made to do because of the outcome if we don’t.”

During his interview with Blomquist, Moore also denied the allegation that those employees who were not present at the campaign event against faced negative ramifications.

“We had people that did not show up that day, and there were no consequences or repercussions taken against any employee that did not attend the Romney event,” said Moore.

Murray Energy Corporation stands by Moore’s remarks and maintains that while President Barack Obama has attacked the coal industry, the decision to attend Romney’s rally was at the discretion of each individual employee.

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