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Miners win settlement of age discrimination suit against Massey subsidiary, Blankenship

October 30, 2009
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More than 200 miners over the age of 40, including 82 members of United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) Local Union 8843, who applied for work at a West Virginia mine operated by a subsidiary of Massey Energy will share an $8.75 million settlement of an age discrimination class action suit they filed against the company and its CEO, Don Blankenship, in 2006.

    The miners applied for employment at Massey subsidiary Spartan Mining Company’s Mammoth mine, formerly known as the Cannelton mine, in eastern Kanawha County between September 1, 2004 and August 31, 2006. All were denied employment. The mine had been acquired by Massey after the bankruptcy of the previous owners, Horizon Natural Resources.

    This is the same mine where the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) recently ruled that Spartan Mining illegally discriminated against 82 UMWA members by refusing to hire them because of their union membership status.

    “This settlement highlights yet again the treacherous and backhanded manner Massey treated the miners who had worked at the Cannelton mine for decades,” UMWA International President Cecil E. Roberts said. “While it was discriminating against these experienced miners because of their age or union status, the company was at the same time publicly crying about the lack of experienced miners in the coalfields.

    “But it wasn’t that Massey couldn’t find experienced miners,” Roberts said. “They were there all along and wanted to work. It was that the company would rather break the law than allow its employees to have a strong voice at work and the tremendous benefits of a union contract.”

    The age discrimination class action suit was brought on behalf of the miners by the Grubb Law Group of Charleston, W. Va. Judge Paul M. Blake of the 12th Judicial Circuit Court of Fayette County, W. Va. gave final approval of the settlement agreement after a hearing today.

    The 82 members of the class who are also claimants in the NLRB case will receive cash awards of $38,000. Members of the class who were not members of the bargaining unit case or are not claimants in the NLRB case will receive cash awards of $19,000.

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