Testimony Wrapped Up In Federal Hearing

By: Angela Sparkman Email
By: Angela Sparkman Email

Testimony wrapped up Wednesday in a federal hearing to determine if a Letcher County coal miner was wrongly disciplined when he video-taped alleged safety violations at the mine where he worked and showed that tape at an M-SHA hearing.

Both the coal miner who shot the video and the manager who wrote him up took the stand Wednesday.

Charles Scott Howard says he was trying to get safety repairs.

Coal Manager Gaither Frazier says he did not know about the tape until the M-SHA hearing.

Howard testified he shot the video in April 2007, because he claims nothing was being done to fix cracking seals, so he wanted to show M-SHA the problems, but Cumberland River Coal Manager Gaither Frazier testified that Howard never told him there was a safety threat, and says Howard knew cameras were not allowed underground without permission, so he gave him a written warning

“Mr. Howard standing up for the rights of the coal miners, not just for himself, but for other miners in eastern Kentucky, that they have the right complain or document unsafe conditions without fear or reprisal,” Tony Oppegard said.

Attorneys for Cumberland River Coal did not comment.

The judge says he will take 30 days to review all the documents, so it could be several months before there is a decision.

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