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Miners at Cobalt's Westchester mine, featured on 2011 Spike TV program, vote for UMWA

November 8, 2012
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[TRIANGLE, VA.] A clear majority of miners at Cobalt Coal's Westchester mine in McDowell County, W. Va., yesterday voted for represention by the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA).

"I congratulate the miners at Cobalt on their decision to join the UWMA," said International President Cecil E. Roberts. "We welcome them to the union family, and we look forward to sitting down with management and negotiating an agreement that is fair and equitable for both sides."

The mine and the workers there were featured in 2011 on Spike TV's "Coal" program.

Concerns about safety practices at the mine were raised after airing of the first few episodes last year. The federal Mine Safety and Health Administration and the West Virginia Office of Miners' Health, Safety and Training cited the mine for several violations based on practices shown in the program.

Standard UMWA agreements include language establishing Local Union safety committees and providing miners contractual protection from retaliation for pointing out safety issues at the mines. A recent study at Stanford University confirmed that fatality and injury rates are significantly lower at mines where the miners are represented by the UMWA.  (See study here)

Twenty-three hourly workers were eligible to vote in the election, supervised by the National Labor Relations Board. The vote was 15-7 in favor of UMWA representation.

The UMWA represents 105,000 active and retired coal miners, manufacturing workers, public safety workers, municipal workers and health care workers in the United States and Canada.

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