Coal miners working for Murray Energy allege that they were forced by their employer to attend an event to support Mitt Romney’s campaign, without pay.
Romney appeared at the Century Mine in Beallsville, Ohio to denounce Obama’s “war on coal” and take press shots with the miners. Robert Murray, the CEO of Murray Energy Corporation, is a steadfast Republican supporter. He even runs a super PAC called the Murray Energy Corporation Political Action Committee, which has given $317,575 to Republican campaigns, including Romney’s presidential campaign. The company has donated $900,000 in the last two years.
However, while the workers appeared to support Romney, they are claiming they were told the event was mandatory, and they would not be paid. They were also told that part of their wages would be donated to the campaign.
The news broke when WWVA Talk Radio Host David Blomquist read emails from the miners on his radio show, then interviewed CFO Rob Moore on air. Moore denies that the miners were told the event was mandatory – he insists it was voluntary, and therefore they would not have been paid for their time. “By federal election law, we could not pay people to attend the event. And we did not want anyone to come back and see where anyone had been paid for that day,” he said on air.
Murray also said that the miners were paid for the time they worked, which was a first shift from 6 AM to 11 AM, with the mine closing until a second shift at 4 PM.
“Yes, 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 my non-salaried employees outside of regular working hours, with the only other option being to take a pay cut for the equivalent time,” the employees told Blomquist. “Yes, letters have gone around with lists of names of employees who have not attended or donated to political events.”
“I realize that many people in this area and elsewhere would love to have my job or my benefits,” one worker explained. “And our bosses do not hesitate in reminding us of this. However, I cannot agree with these callers and my supervisors, who are saying that just because you have a good job, that you should have to work any day for free on almost no notice without your consent.”
It is illegal for employers to refuse pay to their employees – under Federal Minimum Wage Law, employees must make at least the federal minimum wage for hours they are on the job. The dispute between Murray Energy Corporation and the miners of the Century Mine seems to be whether the event was intended to be “work,” and since the company is accused of requiring employees’ attendance, it should be considered paid work.
If you have had wage withheld, or been paid less than federal hourly minimum wage, you should speak with an attorney immediately. The experienced lawyers at Strom Law, LLC can help. We offer free consultations to discuss the facts of your case, so contact us today. 803.252.4800.