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In a screenshot from a Mitt Romney ad, Romney stands in front of coal miners whose boss had made attendance at Romney's speech mandatory and unpaid.
Remember Murray Coal CEO Bob Murray? If you remember the Crandall Canyon Mine collapse or the miners forced to lose pay to go to a Romney event or the mine owner who claimed Obama's reelection caused layoffs, then you remember Bob Murray. But surprise! It now looks like Murray wasn't just blaming layoffs he'd have made anyway on Obama—he's actually rehiring some of the laid-off workers.

Alec MacGillis has been on Murray's case all along, and now he reports that workers are being rehired at Red Bird West, and Ohio mine that Murray announced was closing before the election.

Murray officials disputed that they were restarting operations at Red Bird West. The only work going on at the mine, they said, was "reclamation" required as part of any shutdown. "We're required to put things back together. We're picking up some remnants of coal, some coal that was left over, as we clean up the place," said Gary Broadbent, a senior attorney for the company. He said that there were 42 or 43 people at the mine doing this work, and while the work could go on for a few years, there would be no expansion at the mine, which at its peak employed more than 200 people.
Thing is, back in August when Murray announced the mine would be closing, Red Bird West employed 56 people. "Closing" gives the whole thing a different feel from "laying off 13 or 14 people after years of shrinkage." Not that the latter isn't horrible for the people who lose their jobs or a small town losing jobs, but it's not political fodder in the way that "MINE CLOSING BECAUSE OBAMA" is. Oh, and that's not all:
A former Murray employee in Utah informs me that people are being hired back at the Murray operations there, too, just a couple months after the big post-election layoffs. The former employee said about 25 had recently been hired back on. Murray officials demurred when asked about any uptick in activity at the Utah or Illinois mines where the post-election layoffs occurred.
So, yeah. It looks an awfully lot like Bob Murray engaged in show layoffs first to try to influence the election in Ohio, then to try to make the president look bad after the election. And while it's great that people are being rehired, that's happening after some have doubtless gone through months of unemployment so the boss could make a political point. This is a lesson in how much to trust Bob Murray, though: The layoffs are temporary until the political moment has passed, the miners serving as a backdrop for Mitt Romney have to be there.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Labor on Thu Jan 24, 2013 at 08:52 AM PST.

Also republished by In Support of Labor and Unions and Daily Kos.

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