Whitesburg KY

Australian songwriter cites miner

An Australian songwriter has written a folk song about local coal miner Charles Scott Howard, and has posted it on the Internet on the YouTube website.

Titled “Big Coal Don’t Like This Man At All”, Raymond Crooke’s song tells the story of Howard’s safety activism and well-publicized battles with Cumberland River Coal Co. The song is based on a lengthy article about Howard that was written by Dave Jamieson on the Huffington Post website on September 14.

In his written introduction to the song, Crooke refers to Howard as a “tireless fighter for miners’ rights.” His song, which uses an old Woody Guthrie tune, has ten verses, all of which include the refrain, “When it comes to miners’ safety, he’s always on the ball/Big Coal don’t like this man at all”.

The song recounts how Howard filed legal action alleging that the company had unlawfully disciplined him because he had shown a video of leaking mine seals taken inside a Cumberland River mine at a Mine Safety and Health Administration safety hearing in Lexington.

In May 2011, Howard was laid off by Cumberland River Coal, but after he filed a complaint with MSHA, the U.S. Secretary of Labor filed a lawsuit on Howard’s behalf regarding that dismissal. Howard and the Department of Labor claim that he was discharged because of his numerous safety activities at Cumberland River’s mines since 2007.

Howard, who lives at Roxana with his wife Susie, is currently being paid “economic temporary reinstatement” wages every week by Cumberland River Coal until his discharge case is fully litigated. A trial date has been set for February 14-16, 2012.

The video of “Big Coal Don’t Like This Man At All” can be viewed by going to the YouTube website (www.youtube.com), typing in the song name and hitting the search button. It has gotten about 500 hits since Oct. 2.

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