10/2/2013 10:30 AM
by Nadine Grimley
CHARLESTON - Fewer than half of the Mine Safety and Health Administration's inspectors are working during the government shutdown, and they're focused on mines the agency knows have a history of hazards.
MSHA's shutdown plan furloughs almost 1,400 of it's 2,355 employees nationwide. Only 13 people remained on the job at the national office in Arlington, Va.
The United Mine Workers of America stepped up safety efforts at union mines, but it worried about the effect the government shutdown had on non-union operations.
At union mines, workers can point to safety hazards and demand management fix them. If they go uncorrected, miners can refuse to work.
UMW Spokesman Phil Smith said that it's harder for non-union miners to feel comfortable exercising that right because they often fear retribution.