The Maritime Trades Department was well represented when striking Mine Workers (UMWA) rallied at Tannehill State Park in McCalla. AL, to mark one year on the picket lines against Warrior Met Coal.
More than a dozen MTD affiliates were among the scores of other unions in a show of solidarity during the April 6 demonstration. MTD Executive Board Members Warren Fairley (Boilermakers) and Brian Sanson (UMWA) along with MTD Executive Vice President Daniel Duncan addressed the several thousand attending despite overcast skies and a prediction of severe storms. Three dozen buses brought supporters from as far away as Michigan and Indiana.
More than 1,100 UMWA members from nearby Brookwood, AL, have been walking picket lines against Warrior Met Coal since April 1, 2021. In order to keep the mines open and members working, the union agreed to reduced wages and benefits in 2016 when Warrior Met took over for bankrupt Walter Energy with the understanding that the contract would be improved when Warrior Met became profitable. According to the UMWA, the company has shown a profit for the last two years.
In a statement marking the one-year anniversary, UMWA President Cecil Roberts said, “The workers gave up more than $1.1 billion in order to pull the company out of debt. It was reasonable to assume that once the company became profitable, a fair and decent contract would be negotiated in 2021. But the corporate team left in place – the same team that drove the company into bankruptcy in the first place – appears to have no intention of doing that.
“Management is setting up the company to fail,” Roberts added. “Alabama workers are not going to work long for a coal company that pays less, offers fewer benefits, less vacation time and forces miners to work more hours than the mines right down the road.
“It’s time for the company to put aside the New York lawyers whose job it is to avoid reaching an agreement. It is time for the people who matter to come to the table and sit down for as long as it takes to resolve this. Stop holding these workers, their families, and their communities hostage. Let’s get a contract done here,” he concluded.