Shutdown takes half US mine inspectors off the job

Shutdown takes half US mine inspectors off the job

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CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - Fewer than half the Mine Safety and Health Administration's inspectors are working during the government shutdown, and they're focused on mines the agency knows have a history of hazards.

MSHA's shutdown plan furloughs nearly 1,400 of its 2,355 employees nationwide.

Only 13 people remain on the job at the national office in Arlington, Va.

The United Mine Workers of America is stepping up safety efforts at union mines, but it worries about the effect of the government shutdown on non-union operations.

At union mines, workers can point to safety hazards and demand management fix them. If they go uncorrected, miners can refuse to work.

UMW spokesman Phil Smith tells The Charleston Gazette that it's harder for non-union miners to feel comfortable exercising that right because they often fear retribution.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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