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NLRB law judge orders Massey to hire union applicants at Cannelton/Mammoth mine and recognize, bargain with UMWA

November 26, 2007

CONTACT:    Phil Smith
    In a decision released late on Wednesday, Nov. 21, National Labor Relations Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) Paul Bogas found that Massey Energy 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 (United Mine Workers of America–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 company’s Mammoth mine, formerly called the Cannelton mine, in Kanawha County, W. Va.

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

    “This is a tremendous victory for these courageous workers and for the United Mine Workers of America,” said UMWA International President Cecil E. Roberts today. “It demonstrates that the actions Massey Energy took in the wake of the bankruptcy of Horizon Natural Resources were not just wrong, they were so outside the bounds of law and decency that they must be corrected immediately.

    “We’ve said all along that what the company did to the workers at Cannelton was illegal,” Roberts said. “We’re extremely gratified that the NLRB law judge who heard all the evidence agrees with us, and we look forward to the day, hopefully very soon, when our members can walk back into that mine and reclaim their rightful jobs.”

    Massey bought the former Cannelton operation from Horizon Natural Resources in 2004 after Horizon went into bankruptcy, and renamed it the Mammoth mine. Though a bankruptcy court in Kentucky threw out the collective bargaining agreement, the NLRB’s Bogas found that “such a bankruptcy sale order in no way insulates against the possibility that a buyer will take actions subsequent to the sale that give rise to a successorship bargaining obligation or require the buyer to maintain the existing terms and conditions of employment.”

    Bogas found that such a bargaining obligation exists at Cannelton/Mammoth, and that Massey has discriminated against the former workers at that mine since Dec. 3, 2004. His ruling requires Massey to “make whole” bargaining unit employees who were denied employment “for the losses caused by the Respondents’ failure to apply the terms and conditions of employment that existed immediately prior to their takeover of the predecessor employer,” Horizon Natural Resources.

    Click here for the ruling in its entirety.

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