The United Mine Workers of America says that coal miners are dying while politicians are squabbling and the government is partially closed.
Last week was the first time since 2002 the industry had three deaths in three days — in West Virginia, Illinois and Wyoming.
UMW President Cecil Roberts says the West Virginia supervisor was a former union member, and the union is participating in the investigation.
He says it’s too soon to draw conclusions, but calls the timing of the accidents extremely troubling.
Mine Safety and Health Administration director Joe Main used the same words Monday.
Less than half his staff is working, and inspections are largely focused on mines with a documented history of problems.
Roberts says regular inspections aren’t being conducted because the government’s watchdog isn’t watching.