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NLRB issues complaint against Massey Energy for discrimination against former Horizon miners at Cannelton

date: 
August 21, 2006

A regional office of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) issued a complaint last Friday against Massey Energy based on unfair labor practice charges filed by the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA), charging the company with discrimination in the "hire or tenure or terms or conditions of employment of its employees, thereby discouraging membership in a labor organization," at the former Horizon Natural Resources Cannelton mine in eastern Kanawha County, W. Va., a violation of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA).

The complaint also charges Massey with violating the NLRA by "failing and refusing to bargain collectively with the exclusive collective-bargaining representatives of its employees."

"The facts in this case are clear," said UMWA International President Cecil E. Roberts. "Since Massey bought the Cannelton mine out of bankruptcy in 2004, it has refused to hire the vast majority of the Cannelton workforce simply because the miners were proud UMWA members. We've said all along that the company violated the law when it did that, and the NLRB's General Counsel agrees.

"This action by Massey was a gross injustice to the miners at Cannelton and their families," Roberts said. "It was the final act in a tragic series of events for those miners, who endured an unjust bankruptcy proceeding and discriminatory hiring practices by Massey that stripped them and their families of their livelihoods, their health care, their sense of well-being that every American who works for a living has a right to expect. All because they belonged to a union.

"That's not what America is supposed to be all about," Roberts said. "The UMWA is pleased that the federal government agrees with us, and we look forward to the day when the miners at Cannelton can reclaim their rightful jobs at the end of this process."

The NLRB complaint specifically states that, "Respondent (Massey) engaged in (this) conduct...because the named former employees of Horizon were members of the Union, engaged in concerted activities, and to discourage employees from engaging in these activities and in order to avoid an obligation to recognize and bargain with the Union."

Among the remedies the NLRB seeks in its complaint is the reinstatement of "the terms and conditions of employment that existed under the predecessor, Horizon, until it (Massey) bargains with the Union in good faith to an agreement or lawful impasse and make Unit employees whole for any losses resulting from its unlawful conduct."

The NLRB set a trial date of October 10, 2006, before an Administrative Law Judge in Charleston, W. Va.

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