Earlier this month, Mitt Romney received fawning press from the right wing media for turning out hundreds of coal miners to stand behind him during a speech on his energy plan in Beallsville, Ohio.
“To win Ohio, [President Obama’s] got to win eastern Ohio, and he’s got to get the votes of the people in these communities all around us here, and you’re not going to let that happen, because you’re going to keep our jobs,” Romney said that day.
It turns out that the coal miners did want to keep their jobs — in fact, that’s the only reason that many of them bothered to show up for Romney’s event.
A group of employees at the Century Mine where Romney held his event recently complained to WWVA radio host David Blomquist that they feared they would be fired if they didn’t attend the Romney rally. Making matters worse, management did not pay the employees for the day because they were outside listening to Romney speak instead of working in the mine.
“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 on his radio show.
“I realize that many people in this area and elsewhere would love to have my job or my benefits,” one worker said. “And our bosses do not hesitate in reminding us of this. However, I can not 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.”
Furthermore, the employees claim that “letters have gone around with lists of names of employees who have not attended or donated to political events.”
On Monday, Blomquist gave Murray Energy Chief Financial Officer Rob Moore a chance to defend his company on his show. Moore essentially confirmed the allegations.
According to Moore, the company “communicated to our workforce that the attendance at the Romney event was mandatory, but no one was forced to attend.” It seems that Moore may not fully understand the meaning of the word “mandatory.”
Moore also confirmed that the employees were not paid for their time.
“As a private employer, it was our decision and we made the decision not to pay the people,” Murray told Blomquist. “We’re talking about an event that was in the best interest of anyone that’s related to the coal industry…I do not believe that missing an eight-hour day, when you put it into perspective, when you think about how critical — critical this next election is, and how critical it is that we get someone in this office that supports coal — to give up eight hours for a career, I just don’t believe that there is anything negative about that.”
This is not the first time that Romney has gone to great lengths to stack an audience in his favor. His campaign also flew in black supporters to cheer for him during his widely panned speech to the NAACP, and has been accused of buying fake Twitter followers to help pad Romney’s social media statistics.
At the end of the day, the Beallsville coal miners should count themselves lucky. Historically, when a group of blue collar workers have been ordered to assemble for a suprise speech from Team Romney, the results have been far worse than hearing a lecture on energy independence.
(AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)