UMWA, Alpha agree on deal for prep plants

INDUSTRY union the United Mine Workers of America and the crews of five preparation facilities formerly owned by Massey Energy and now owned by Alpha Natural Resources have reached a new five-and-a-half-year collective bargaining agreement.
UMWA, Alpha agree on deal for prep plants UMWA, Alpha agree on deal for prep plants UMWA, Alpha agree on deal for prep plants UMWA, Alpha agree on deal for prep plants UMWA, Alpha agree on deal for prep plants

A Massey Energy loadout facility. Courtesy Massey Energy.

Donna Schmidt

The union said Thursday that the new deal for approximately 145 workers at the Bandmill plant in Logan County, West Virginia; the Long Fork plant in Pike County, Kentucky; the Goals plant in Raleigh County, West Virginia; the Omar Coal Chesterfield plant in Boone County, West Virginia; and the Power Mountain facility in Nicholas County, West Virginia would take effect on January 1 and will extend through June 30, 2017.

The workers had been working with provisions of a previous contract that expired in 1998.

“They will get a substantial initial raise, the first they've had since 1998 …[t]hey will get annual wage increases for the life of the agreement [and] they will get a $1,000 bonus,” UMWA international president Cecil Roberts said, adding that shift differentials, a clothing allowance, sickness and accident benefits and quality health care benefits were also included in the new deal.

The union took aim at the plants’ former owner, Massey, for the large gap in time workers went without a union contract.

“I commend the workers at these plants for persevering so long and sticking with the UMWA in the face of constant attacks by the previous ownership,” Roberts said.

“Massey simply refused to take any steps to reach a fair agreement as long as these workers stayed in the UMWA. But the workers stayed united and it ultimately paid off for them.”

He went on to recognize Alpha’s “fresh approach” to recognize value in its employees.

The UMWA is working to build a good relationship with Alpha and all of its union-represented mines, Roberts said.

“We appreciate the company's willingness to recognise and address the long standing inequities the workers at these preparation plants were dealing with.”