Reflecting back on the year 2014, West Virginians were once again witness to the obvious: some corporations continue to operate as if they are in a third world country. For example, after Freedom Industries poisoned the water of 300,000 people in January 2014, its Chief Operating Officer Gary Southern attempted to cut short a news conference he called by saying, “It has been an extremely long day.”

Several years ago, E. Morgan Massey of Massey Energy said, and I am paraphrasing, “corporations owe no allegiance to America, especially southern West Virginia.”

It is incomprehensible that many corporations continue to make worker and public safety a low priority, if a priority at all.

So what are we going to do about it? First, we as compassionate citizens of our great state can send a sturdy message, via our vote, our voices and our change of attitude. We must, in unison, support those who are working hard to bring about change in corporate attitude.

As we begin the new year, our show of solid support can help punctuate the message our U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin is sending to corporations in West Virginia. Goodwin and his team have not wavered in their attempt to find justice for those families of the 29 miners killed at the Upper Big Branch Mine in 2010, nor for the 300,000 West Virginians who were deprived of water for weeks in 2014.

Sadly, whatever the outcome of the upcoming UBBM court proceedings, the affected families will always live with pain and anguish, forever knowing that the deaths of their loved ones should have and could have been prevented.

The decision of U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin to go where the investigation led, even if it meant piercing the corporate veil of Massey and Freedom Industries, was wise and well thought out. It should go a long way in righting what is wrong within America’s corporations with regard to safety issues. It is good to know that because the U.S. Attorney “dared to go there,” those in powerful positions within corporations will no longer be protected by position or rank, no matter how high.

Thank you, U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin. Good luck in your efforts to find justice and with your career as a public servant.

Frank Thurman

Local Union 340

Newton

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