National fund drive under way to support families
By ED FINKELSTEIN
Brookwood, AL – In an effort reminiscent of the 1920’s, scabs have been hired to break a coal miners strike here against Warrior Met Coal. This despite that when the company’s former owner was in bankruptcy, the miners took major wage cuts to keep it viable.
Now in the strike’s second month, police were called in last week when picketers, joined by mine workers officials and Union Veterans Council members marched from a local church to the entrance of Mine #7 where they proceeded to block the entrance to prevent the scabs that the company had hired from leaving the mine. The police arrested 11 protesters.
“Instead of rewarding the sacrifices and work of the miners, Warrior Met is seeking even further sacrifices from them, while demonstrating perhaps some of the worst Labor-management relations we’ve seen in this industry since the days of the company town and company store,” said United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) President Cecil Roberts.
YOU CAN HELP
A national fund drive has been established to help the 1,100 strikers and their families. More than $70,000 has been raised. To donate, send a check or money order payable to “UMWA 2021 Strike Aid Fund” and mail it to the Fund at P.O. Box 513, Dumfries, VA, 22026.
On April 9, Warrior miners voted down a proposed five-year contract 1,006-45. Miners were livid that the deal restored only $1.50 of the $6-an-hour pay cut, along with reductions in benefits and pensions workers voluntarily took in 2016 to save the company.
While pay and health benefits are critical issues in the negotiations, working conditions and safety are also major concerns. The miners reportedly are working 80 hours in a six-day workweek and under a “four strike” policy that allows management to fire workers automatically if they miss four days of work over a period of 15 months.
Miners have complained that the Brookfield mines are not only the nation’s deepest, but also its gassiest. The area around the mine is dotted with hundreds of degasification fields, where the methane from the mines is pumped out of the mines and dispersed into the air above ground.
The UMWA has filed unfair labor practice charges against Warrior Met with the National Labor Relations Board.
“Our members are the reason Warrior Met even exists today,” Roberts said. “They made the sacrifices to bring this company out of bankruptcy in 2016. Warrior Met has capitalized on their hard work, earning tens of millions in profits for their Wall Street owners. They have even rewarded upper management with bonuses of up to $35,000 in recent weeks.”
Miners need our support
By LIZ SCHULER
Our Mine Workers (UMWA) union family is on strike against management at Warrior Met Coal.
UMWA members saved Warrior from bankruptcy. They sacrificed, taking pay and benefit cuts. Now Warrior won’t give them a fair contract.
Central Alabama is UMWA country and has been for more than 100 years. A fair contract would help the community – every business, every restaurant, every clinic and every pharmacy.
But Wall Street hedge fund executives are saying they can’t afford to pay miners a fair wage, while taking bonuses for themselves.
They don’t care about the community and families in central Alabama. They just want to take as much money as they can from the region.
We want Warrior to be successful — as long as it shares its success with the workers who make it profitable and the community it calls home.