Tentative labor agreement not ratified, strike continues at Warrior Met Coal

Mine Strike

TUSCALOOSA COUNTY, Ala. (WBRC) - UPDATE: The United Mine Workers of America announced Friday that members working at Warrior Met Coal in Bessemer did not ratify a tentative agreement negotiated with the company.

Workers will remain on their unfair labor practice strike.

“Our members made it clear that the terms the company were willing to offer were not sufficient enough to make up for the sacrifices made in 2016,” said International President Cecil E. Roberts.

UPDATE: Officials with the United Mine Workers of America announced Monday a tentative collective bargaining agreement was reached between them and Warrior Met Coal, Inc.

The union is not releasing details about the agreement until members are told and a vote is held. That vote is currently set for April 9.

One miner told WBRC the company offered them a $1.50 raise, with $1 now and 50 cents after 3 years. They also changed their strike policy to 6.

Miners at Warrior Met have been on strike since April 1. The workers are asking for new contract negotiations with better benefits.

Strike at Warrior Met Coal.
Strike at Warrior Met Coal. (Source: Christine Grace)

ORIGINAL: Hundreds of workers at the Warrior Met coal mine in Tuscaloosa County are on strike. It started April 1, 2021.

The union is claiming unfair labor practices, especially since the company filed for bankruptcy in 2016.

The company says they’re offering benefits that compete with other jobs while protecting the company’s future.

Negotiations between the two sides have been ongoing.

Strike at Warrior Met Coal.
Strike at Warrior Met Coal. (Source: Christine Grace)

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The United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) issued an unfair labor practice strike notice at Warrior Met Coal, Inc., to begin at 10:30 p.m. on April 1, 2021.

The notice covers more than 1,100 workers at all of the company’s operations, including the #4 mine, the #5 preparation plant, the #7 mine and its Central Shop.

“Our members are the reason Warrior Met even exists today,” UMWA International President Cecil E. Roberts said. “They made the sacrifices to bring this company out of the bankruptcy of Walter Energy in 2016.

“These productive, professional miners at Warrior Met mined the coal that meant the company could become successful again,” Roberts said. “And Warrior Met has capitalized on their hard work, earning tens of millions in profits for their Wall Street owners. They have even rewarded upper management with bonuses of up to $35,000 in recent weeks.

“But today, instead of rewarding the sacrifices and work of the miners, Warrior Met is seeking even further sacrifices from them, while demonstrating perhaps some of the worst labor-management relations we’ve seen in this industry since the days of the company town and company store,” Roberts said.

“Despite repeated attempts by our negotiating team to bridge the differences we have at the bargaining table, Warrior Met is going backwards,” Roberts said. “We have always been ready to reach a fair agreement that recognizes the sacrifices our members and their families made to keep this company alive. At this point, Warrior Met is not.”

The UMWA has filed unfair labor practice charges with the National Labor Relations Board relating to Warrior Met’s conduct during negotiations.

UMWA dues-paying members who participate in picket line or other strike duty will receive bi-weekly strike assistance payments from the union’s Selective Strike fund. The union is procuring health care coverage for members and their families for the duration of the strike.

“Nobody in their right mind ever wants to strike,” Roberts said. “But sometimes the company’s actions and disregard for the welfare of workers and their families forces a strike. This is one of those times. Our members at Warrior Met should know that they have the full backing of the entire International Union and working families across Alabama, the United States and the world. Despite Warrior Met’s apparent appetite for this conflict, we will prevail.”

Warrior Met Coal issued this statement Wednesday night:

At Warrior Met Coal, we value and appreciate our employees’ hard work. Simply put, we are only as good as our team. Our priorities have always been keeping people employed with long-lasting careers and ensuring Warrior Met Coal remains financially stable in a particularly volatile coal market.

With our contract with the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) set to expire on April 1, 2021, we have been working in good faith to reach an agreement.

Throughout negotiations, our sight has remained on the future – to provide our employees with a competitive package while protecting jobs and the longevity of the Company and its workforce.

History has shown that we must remain vigilant in preparing for the volatility of coal prices. Despite a declining market and global pandemic last year, we are especially proud of the fact that we remained open as an essential industry and were able to protect the livelihood of our 1,400 employees.

We provide some of the highest paying jobs in Alabama and they contribute immensely to our state’s economy. Metallurgical coal is a vital component in steel manufacturing and is accountable for 50% of the revenue generated by the Alabama State Port Authority. We take this responsibility for our employees, neighbors and our state’s economic growth very seriously.

We have and will continue to work with the UMWA to reach a resolution. While we are disappointed that the UMWA has taken this extreme step to declare a strike while we continue to negotiate in good faith, we have continuity plans in place to continue meeting the demands of our key customers.

We respect our employees’ contributions to Warrior Met Coal and will not stop working to reach an agreement. The wellbeing of our team is always at the forefront. We remain committed to achieving a package that employees appreciate, that will protect the Company and can provide a stable future.

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