On Wednesday Robert Murray, the Chief Executive of Murray Energy, decided to pray and then fire 54 employees at American Coal and 102 more at Utah American Energy. And now it looks like one of Murray's layoffs has taken to Reddit to explain that he was told he was being fired because America chose to re-elect President Obama the night before. Reddit user Kgphoto writes in an Ask Me Anything thread titled "Yesterday I was laid off because President Obama was re-elected:
I worked at a coal mine that decided today to layoff over 40 employees and the only reason that was given was that "America has betrayed coal miners" by re-electing President Obama. Despite the fact that nothing has changed in the two days since the election they decide to lay off employees. I've seen how corrupt the company can be over the years and am fairly certain the layoffs are just a way to make the President look bad.
Kgphoto's account (over 40 employees, "America has betrayed coal miners", etc.) matches up with The Washington Post's Steven Mufson's account of Murray today. Mufson wrote:
On Wednesday, Murray also laid off 54 people at American Coal, one of his subsidiary companies, and 102 at Utah American Energy, blaming a “war on coal” by the administration of President Barack Obama.”
And KG has the photo of a statement those being laid off were given, just in case this whole "war on coal" idea as the reason for being fired just seems like fiction:
So got that? Workers being told they were being fired because of Obama. But the key takeaway from kg's AMA is this line:
Despite the fact that nothing has changed in the two days since the election they decide to lay off employees.
That isn't how the company has been spinning it. Knowing that no major changes happened makes you question if the company was really in "survival mode," as the Huffington Post reported, or if Murray was trying to make another political point—he was a prominent Romney backer, and as The New Republic reported, he sent employees to a Romney rally without pay earlier this year. The latter is what kg is thinking:
And, as one redditor pointed out, big picture-wise, coal's major problem is the emergence of cheaper national gas. But that wasn't the point Murray was trying to make:
As some Redditors pointed out, Murray's layoffs are legal because of "at-will" employment. And considering the timing and the political statement, some are having a hard time believing that these cuts reasonable (even though it's entirely possible):
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.