From yesterday's online edition of the Nation:
After campaigning as a champion of coal miners, Donald Trump is reportedly close to choosing for commerce secretary a New York billionaire who owned a West Virginia mine where a dozen miners were killed in 2006. Trump’s favored candidate, Wilbur Ross, also engineered buyouts that cost workers their benefits and their jobs. It’s a striking choice, considering Trump’s promises to improve the lives of coal miners and other working-class Americans.
The article documents his past:
Dubbed the “the King of Bankruptcy,” Ross cut jobs, wages, pensions, and health benefits at the companies he acquired, and reaped the profits. In the early 2000s, Ross’s foray into the steel industry netted him a $267 million personal windfall, but stripped health-care benefits from more than 150,000 retired steelworkers. Then he moved on to the coal industry, at one point controlling as much as $1.2 billion in coal assets through his company, the International Coal Group.
One of ICG’s acquisitions in West Virginia was the Sago Mine, about 100 miles east of Charleston. The mine, a non-union operation, racked up a slew of safety violations from federal inspectors—more than 208 in 2005 alone. That year, the roof of the mine collapsed 20 times. Workers at Sago were injured three times as often as workers in similar mines elsewhere. Though Ross claimed not to be part of operating management at Sago, he admitted later that he was aware of the violations, and waved them away.
In doing further research on Ross, I found his reaction to the deaths of 12 miners at Sago at the beginning of an interview with ABC News:
Oh, my God, it's the worst week of my entire life.
He should fit well in a Trump administration.