Among those who took a despairing view to the news of President Obama’s re-election, few were more despondent—and vindictive—than the CEO of Murray Energy, Robert Murray. The day after the election, the chairman and chief executive of the Ohio-based coal company fired 54 employees at American Coal and 102 at Utah American Energy, but not before reading a prayer and telling workers that “the takers outvoted the producers.” Murray faulted Obama’s “war on coal,” The Washington Post reported.
In late August, Murray’s company came under fire when reports emerged that his workers had been forced, without pay, to attend a Romney campaign event. Murray also pressured employees to donate money and attend fundraisers for the Republican candidate, as revealed in a March 2012 letter, where he wrote, “We have been insulted by every salaried employee who does not support our efforts.”
Murray Energy employs around 3,000 workers and produces 30 million short tons of bituminous coal per year — 7-8 million of which are mined in Ohio — making it the nation’s largest privately owned coal mining company.
The political nature of the 156 layoffs was readily apparent in the prayer Murray read to employees on Wednesday, which was first published on the Intelligencer /Wheeling News-Register website:
Mr. Robert E. Murray’s Prayer, as shared with his workers:
The American people have made their choice. They have decided that America must change its course, away from the principals [sic] of our Founders. And, away from the idea of individual freedom and individual responsibility. Away from capitalism, economic responsibility, and personal acceptance.
We are a Country in favor of redistribution, national weakness and reduced standard of living and lower and lower levels of personal freedom.
My regret, Lord, is that our young people, including those in my own family, never will know what America was like or might have been. They will pay the price in their reduced standard of living and, most especially, reduced freedom.
The takers outvoted the producers. In response to this, I have turned to my Bible and in II Peter, Chapter 1, verses 4-9 it says, “To faith we are to add goodness; to goodness, knowledge; to knowledge, self control; to self control, perseverance; to perseverance, godliness; to godliness, kindness; to brotherly kindness, love.”
Lord, please forgive me and anyone with me in Murray Energy Corp. for the decisions that we are now forced to make to preserve the very existence of any of the enterprises that you have helped us build. We ask for your guidance in this drastic time with the drastic decisions that will be made to have any hope of our survival as an American business enterprise.
Given that no major changes took place in the days since Obama’s re-election, there is little reason to believe Murray had any other cause for the layoffs besides partisan politics. His prayer evinced a fundamental agreement with the “47 percent” comments that dogged Romney’s presidential aspirations, drawing widespread condemnation. Murray, unlike Romney, presented this view publicly and without apology.