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NLRB orders Massey subsidiary to recognize and bargain with UMWA

October 2, 2009
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Board orders Mammoth Coal Company to rehire 85 miners illegally discriminated against because of union affiliation

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) on Sept. 30, 2009, ordered Mammoth Coal Company, a subsidiary of Massey Energy, to recognize the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) as the exclusive representative of the employees at the company’s Mammoth Mine in Smithers, W.Va., and to bargain with the union.

The NLRB also ordered Mammoth to offer employment to 85 former workers at the mine who the board found were discriminated against because of their union membership status. Mammoth was further ordered to make those employees whole in terms of loss of “earnings and other benefits they may have suffered by reason of (Mammoth’s) unlawful refusal to hire them.”

“This tremendous victory affirms what we have been saying all along,” UMWA International President Cecil E. Roberts said today. “Mammoth Coal had an obligation to recognize the union when it bought this mine out of bankruptcy, and it had an obligation to rehire the miners who were working there at the time.

“But the employer chose a different path that discriminated against the union and these experienced, dedicated workers,” Roberts said. “At every step along the line in this case, federal authorities have agreed with us that what Mammoth did was a violation of the law. Now, the highest labor authority in the land has agreed, too.

“Words cannot express my feelings for the miners who have suffered tremendously throughout this long, five-year struggle,” Roberts said. “They have persevered through extremely difficult times and come out on top. This is a great day for them, a great day for their families, and a great day for American working people.”

Massey purchased the mine, formerly known as the Cannelton mine and operated by Horizon Natural Resources, after Horizon went bankrupt in 2004. A NLRB Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) found in 2007 that Massey violated the National Labor Relations Act (the Act) by refusing to hire former union members who worked at the mine simply because of their support for the union.

The ALJ also found that Massey violated the Act by failing and refusing to recognize the UMWA as the bargaining representative of the bargaining unit employees at the mine and by unilaterally changing the bargaining unit’s terms and conditions of employment. The UMWA had represented the miners at that mine since 1969 under a succession of several owners.

The NLRB also ordered Mammoth to post a notice “at its facilities in and around Kanawha County, West Virginia,” that affirms workers’ rights to form unions, renounces discrimination against UMWA members who worked at the Cannelton mine and affirms that it will make those miners whole.

Mammoth must also affirm in that notice that it will reinstate the terms and conditions of employment that existed at the mine at the time it bought it, and that it will recognize and bargain with the UMWA for a successor agreement at the request of the union.

“I call upon Mammoth to finally follow the law and comply with the NLRB’s order,” Roberts said. “It is long past time for these miners to have justice and have their jobs back. We look forward to representing the workers at the Mammoth operation.”

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