Shareholders are calling on Massey Energy to seek the immediate resignation of chairman and CEO Don Blankenship in the aftermath of the West Virginia disaster that killed 29 miners, the worst in forty years. The Change to Win Investment Group — a union pension fund group with over $200 billion in assets — believes the Upper Big Branch mine explosion is the “tragic consequence of the board’s failure to challenge Chairman and CEO Blankenship’s confrontational approach to regulatory compliance.” New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli, who controls about $14.1 million of Massey stock as the trustee of the New York State Common Retirement Fund, blasted Massey’s “callous disregard for the safety of its employees” as a “failure both of risk management and effective board oversight”:
Massey’s cavalier attitude toward risk and callous disregard for the safety of its employees has exacted a horrible cost on dozens of hard-working miners and their loved ones. This tragedy was a failure both of risk management and effective board oversight. Blankenship must step down and make room for more responsible leadership at Massey.
Early this morning, the last of the 29 bodies of the miners killed were recovered from the mine. Yesterday, Standard & Poors upgraded Massey to a “buy,” saying the tragedy’s “financial effect” was “immaterial.”