"You've got a great boss, he runs a great operation here," Mitt Romney told a group of Ohio coal miners at a Murray Energy mine on Aug. 14, before launching into an attack on President Obama's supposed opposition to coal. That "great boss," it turns out, had made the miners' attendance at the Romney event mandatory and unpaid
A group of employees who feared they'd be fired if they didn't attend the campaign rally in Beallsville, Ohio, complained about it to WWVA radio station talk show host David Blomquist. Blomquist discussed their beefs on the air Monday with Murray Energy Chief Financial Officer Rob Moore.
Moore told Blomquist that managers "communicated to our workforce that the attendance at the Romney event was mandatory, but no one was forced to attend." He said the company did not penalize no-shows.
Because the company's mine had to be shut down for "safety and security" reasons during Romney's visit, Moore confirmed workers were not paid that day. He said miners also lose pay when weather or power outages shut down the mine, and noted that federal election law doesn't let companies pay workers to attend political events.
What does mandatory but not forced even mean? If your boss tells you something is mandatory, do you think, "Well, as long as he doesn't force me"? Facing questions from a radio host, management is now adamant that they didn't intimidate anyone and attendance was voluntary. Except that, yes, they did say it was mandatory.
This contempt for his workers is of a piece with the past behavior of Bob Murray, CEO of Murray Energy, who, as Meteor Blades detailed, has in the past lied about the company's actions just before a fatal mining accident, and who's lobbied against new safety regulations. But of course it's this kind of mine owner who Romney chooses to praise in front of a group of miners forced to stand there without pay. He's Romney's kind of people.