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4th Circuit rules against Massey in Mammoth case, upholds Goodwin decision ordering Massey to hire UMWA miners

July 2, 2009
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The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit issued a ruling yesterday that upheld a temporary order issued by U.S. District Judge Joseph R. Goodwin requiring Massey Energy to hire members of the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) at its Mammoth mine, formerly the Cannelton mine, in Kanawha County, W. Va.

“We are pleased with the 4th Circuit’s decision,” UMWA International President Cecil E. Roberts said today. “We look forward to the day when miners who were illegally discriminated against get their rightful jobs back, and to all the miners at the Mammoth mine having the benefit and protection of working under a UMWA contract.”

A National Labor Relations Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) ruled in Nov. 2007 that Massey discriminated against employees of the former Cannelton mine when Massey took over operation of the mine in 2004 by refusing to hire them “on the basis of their membership in the predecessor’s bargaining unit and their prounion sentiments.”

As a remedy, the ALJ ordered Massey Energy to “notify the Union (UMWA) in writing that they recognize the Union as the exclusive representative of the bargaining unit employees under Section 9(a) of the Act and that they will bargain with the Union concerning terms and conditions of employment for employees” at the Mammoth mine.

The ALJ ordered Massey to offer employment to 85 former employees at Cannelton who were refused employment because of their pro-union sentiments.

Massey appealed that decision to the full National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). In the meantime, the NLRB sought a temporary order from Judge Goodwin to put the miners back to work. Goodwin issued such an order last August, which Massey appealed to the 4th Circuit.

However, Goodwin’s temporary order did not fully implement the ALJ’s decision, in that it did not require Massey to recognize the union nor to implement the terms and conditions of employment that were in place at the Cannelton mine at the time Massey bought it. Goodwin only ordered that Massey rehire the miners under existing, nonunion conditions at the mine.

“We fully expect the ALJ’s decision to be upheld by the NLRB,” Roberts said. “Not only will that mean the miners will get their rightful jobs back, but they will also receive back pay going back to the time Massey bought the mine and reopened it in 2004. And it will mean that, once again, the miners at that mine will be represented by the UMWA.”

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