According to a statement released Tuesday, workers are planning to walk off the job on Wednesday, April 4 at Emerald and Cumberland Coal Resources, both in Pennsylvania, and the Wabash mine in Illinois in response to what the UMWA is calling “employer unfair labour practices”
The workers are without a contract, as it expired three months after those of other operators, the group said. "We have reached an agreement with all of the other coal companies, and it has been essentially the same agreement at every one of those companies. Foundation has had an extra three months, yet we still find ourselves at this point.”
UMWA president Cecil Roberts said the union filed its unfair labour practice with the National Labor Relations Board, saying Foundation “continues to insist on treating each of these operations as separate entities even though they are clearly all parts of the same employer”.
Roberts said yesterday he “sincerely hopes” the mine workers, who are undergoing strike training this week, do not have to take it as far as a complete work stoppage at the mines, but that they will be fully prepared for whatever happens.
“This is a step we did not want to take,” Roberts said. “Yet the company leaves us with little choice. The company has failed to respond to our requests for information that are needed for bargaining a new agreement, as it is required to do by law.”
Maryland-based Foundation released a statement today, saying that the company's operating affiliates - Cumberland Coal Resources, Emerald Coal Resources and Wabash Mine Holding - had been responsive to the UMWA’s information requests, and that the union now has the documentation necessary to continue to bargain effectively.
Foundation’s senior vice president of safety and human resources, Michael R. Peelish, who is acting as bargaining agent on behalf of the three companies, said they were prepared to respond appropriately to the National Labor Relations Board regarding these allegations.
He said the companies would continue to negotiate with the UMWA this week and “are prepared to stay at the table until a mutually agreeable outcome is reached.”