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UMWA reaches agreement with Jim Walter Resources, boosting compensation, benefits for nearly 1,000 miners

January 17, 2007

The United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) announced today that Jim Walter Resources (JWR) has signed a contract that mirrors the national contract the UMWA negotiated with the Bituminous Coal Operators Association (BCOA) last month, which includes significant gains in wages and benefits for UMWA members working at JWR over the next five years.

"By agreeing to the wage and benefit improvements contained in the BCOA contract, JWR has recognized the BCOA contract as the blueprint for all UMWA-represented companies industry-wide," said UMWA International President Cecil E. Roberts. "JWR also recognized that this agreement is a good and workable agreement for miners and mine operators in Alabama, just as it is for miners and operators in West Virginia, Pennsylvania, the Midwest and everywhere else in the nation."

Roberts noted that there are still some coal companies which have not signed the BCOA agreement. "Now is the time for the remaining operators, whose workers have toiled without a contract since the year began, to come on board and sign this agreement," he said. "We sincerely hope we can reach an agreement with those other companies as soon as possible, but we are preparing and training our local union leaders and members for the alternative in case we cannot."

As in the BCOA agreement, the JWR agreement calls for a 20 percent across-the-board increase in wages over the life of the agreement, and a $1,000 bonus to be paid immediately. Underground miners working at the top rate will be earning $24.42 per hour in the final year of the contract. The training rate for new miners will be $22.77 per hour in the last year of the agreement. There are additional improvements in health care and insurance coverage as well.

Because JWR participates in the UMWA Health and Retirement Funds, the company was already bound by the significant pension improvements for active and retired miners contained in the BCOA agreement.

The UMWA represents nearly 1,000 miners at three underground mines operated by JWR in Tuscaloosa County, Ala. Those members voted to ratify the BCOA agreement last month, meaning the agreement with JWR will go into effect immediately.

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