UMWA Miners Vote ‘No’ to Proposed Contract Changes
A weeklong strike at Warrior Met Coal in Brookwood will continue after its union of workers voted ‘no’ to the company’s proposals on a new contract for the miners.
More than 1,000 miners will head back to the picket line next week.
“Our members made it clear that the tentative agreement was not sufficient enough to make up for the sacrifices made in 2016,” said United Mine Workers of America International President Cecil E. Roberts. “So, the UMWA will continue to strike at Warrior Met until an agreement can be reached that provides these miners what they deserve. This is a democratic union. The membership has the final say in what their collective bargaining agreements look like. The decision was theirs to make and they have the full support of UMWA District 20 and the International union. We will continue negotiations with the company.”
The new contract offered by Warrior Met Coal was presented to employees on Wednesday and the vote was conducted Friday from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.
The proposed contract only provided employees with a $1.50 raise. There was also hardly any change to the 80/20 insurance offered by the company.
Jeff Fleenor, who has worked for the company as a heavy equipment operator for 16 years said the contract they voted on was an "insult."
Dwayne Mitchem who has worked as an electrician for 25 years, says "they are going in the right direction."
Rily Houghlett, who has been a roof bolter for 13 years, voted ‘no’ and will head back to the line fighting for his rights as a worker.
"I will suffer the cause for the just result," Houghlett said.
Fleeson said he is standing up for future miners that join the company.
"I understand the concerns of some people being out of work for a while, however I didn’t come back to roll over on this contract," Fleeson said. "I specifically came back for this day to ensure we got a fair contract and that I wasn’t the generation that let all the sacrifices that people in the UMWA fought for 90 to 100 years ago fade into obscurity. Our sacrifices pale in comparison to those at the start of the labor movement and the early years of the UMWA. I keep up on my history. I know about the Battle of Blair Mountain, Bloody Harlan, and the Pittston Strike where my dad participated. These were major milestone events that led us to where we are today. I owe it to miners of days gone by, my family and myself to fight for what we deserve."
Roberts says that the union will continue negotiations with the company.