“Ohio Valley has been attempting to avoid the layoff through exhaustive efforts in trying to deal with the UMWA for many months to expand the boundaries and reserves of [the] mine,” a company spokesperson told ILN.
“Unfortunately, the international and local union officers of the UMWA did not put forth the efforts, as did Ohio Valley, in preserving these jobs. As a result, the … mine ran out of mineable reserves in one area of the mine that required a partial shutdown of a part-time, intermittently-operated continuous miner section and, regrettably, there was no other work available for the 21 employees.”
Murray Energy said it did everything possible to avoid the July 12 furlough at the union operation, the only one in its portfolio represented by the UMWA.
Union international secretary-treasurer Daniel Kane said that it and the operator had been meeting off the record for months due to Murray’s request to reopen its current agreement with the Ohio Valley Coal which expires at the end of 2011. The producer’s proposal for a new ten-year agreement, he said, required concessions from the UMWA.
“It has become evident that the company has been withholding years worth of coal reserves for the Powhatan No. 6 mine in an effort to get the company’s employees to make major concessions,” Kane said of the union’s position.
“I would note that production records indicate that these same employees are among the most productive miners in the entire nation, including within Murray Energy and its many subsidiaries.”
He said that meetings were held recently with the membership, who stressed they were not ready to accept the offer proposed.
“The union continues to be ready to meet with the company to discuss this further to see if there is a way forward that is mutually beneficial to all parties. We continue to believe that is best done in a reasonable, rational fashion with both parties acting in a responsible manner.”
Kane said Murray officials have opted for “a campaign of worker intimidation followed by media manipulation” to make itself appear victimized.
”Those miners the company so callously laid off did nothing wrong, and truth be told there is both a demand for that mine’s coal and abundant coal reserves to meet that demand. The company should put those miners back to work where they belong.”