The Nation. [posted May 25, 2006 (June 12, 2006 issue)].
The May 20 mine disaster, which killed five coal miners, occurred in Harlan County, Kentucky--infamous for its history of conflict between mine operators and miners. In the 1930s violent strikebusting by Harlan County coal companies against the fledgling United Mine Workers inspired Florence Reese's union anthem, "Which Side Are You On?"
The Bush Administration has made it clear which side it is on. Mine workers have faced increasingly unsafe conditions because of rollbacks of health and safety regulations, the appointment of former mining industry executives to federal mine safety agencies and the slashing of the budget and staff for safety inspection.