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Union mines have fewer serious injuries: study

June 1, 2011

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Stanford, CA – Miners in unionized coal mines are significantly less likely to suffer traumatic mining injuries and fatalities, indicates new research from Stanford University.

A study of underground bituminous coal mines from 1993 to 2008 linked unionization to an 18-33 percent drop in serious injuries and a 27-68 percent decline in fatalities. The disparity was most pronounced among larger mines, according to a study abstract.

Unionized mines also had more total and non-traumatic injuries, which the study author suggested could be due to differences in reporting practices between union and non-union mines.

According to the study, which was funded by NIOSH, the effect of unionization on injuries has increased since the 1990s. Possible reasons include changes in federal scrutiny, more sophistication and professionalization of union safety programs, overall improvement in labor relations, and competitive pressure facing union leaders.

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