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Labor board rules for UMWA in Mammoth case

October 1, 2012
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[TRIANGLE, VA] – The National Labor Relations Board Friday ruled that Mammoth Coal, then a subsidiary of Massey Energy, broke the law when it refused to hire former union workers at a West Virginia coal mine it purchased in 2004. Workers at the mine, formerly known as the Cannelton mine, had been represented by the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) since the 1940s.

“This is a huge victory for these workers, “ said UMWA International President Cecil E. Roberts. “They have fought eight long years for justice. The real tragedy here is that they had to fight at all, but Don Blankenship and Massey Energy were never very interested in doing the right thing.”

The mine, located in Kanawha County, W. Va., was purchased by Massey from the bankrupt Horizon Natural Resources Co. and operated by its Mammoth subsidiary. The mine was acquired by Alpha Natural Resources when it bought Massey in 2011.

Although the UMWA informed Massey that 250 union miners who had worked there were willing to remain after the sale, Mammoth made a point of avoiding such hires, in fact hiring only 19 former Cannelton miners, in order to operate the mine nonunion. “Indeed, Mammoth’s hiring criteria can best be understood as mechanisms to screen out miners with an established connection to the union,” the Board found.

“This ruling requires that 85 of the former workers get back pay, which should run into the millions of dollars,” Roberts said. “It also orders management to restore the former terms and conditions of employment, recognize the UMWA and bargain in good faith. We call on management to sit down with us at the earliest possible time to negotiate a collective bargaining agreement to provide the workers with the strong union contract they deserve.”

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