Alabama miners walk off job

AMERICAN coal operator Drummond is at odds with its Shoal Creek workforce after the union workers called an unauthorised strike last week.

Staff Reporter

According to the Birmingham News, Drummond filed a lawsuit in the US District Court that the work stoppage that resulted in a large group of United Mine Workers not showing up for their scheduled shift beginning last Wednesday may have been in response to its plans to terminate an already suspended miner for absenteeism.

“The strike is currently in progress and is in violation of the terms of the collective bargaining agreement,” the Birmingham-based producer said Thursday in its filing.

The company listed a strike start date of 10.30pm local time last Wednesday, when only 13 of its 140 miners showed up for their shift, and fewer than half of the following day’s 145-worker day shift arrived for work, the paper noted.

While the suit notes that Drummond reserves the right to terminate a worker for missing work with no notification or permission, the union disagrees and has requested an arbitrator step in.

“The monetary loss is impossible to calculate, but exceeds $100,000 to $150,000 per day," the producer said.

No public statement has been made by Drummond, and a request for comment from the UMWA was not returned Monday.

Shoal Creek, located in Jefferson County, Alabama, was evacuated twice in late June, the second time following a suspected lightning strike that injured several workers. Slated for a permanent shutdown, it closed for two months and then reopened in February of this year citing successful reclamation efforts.

At that time it recalled 430 of its initial 450 workers, and now retains 125 salaried employees.