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UMWA on strike at three Foundation Coal mines

April 4, 2007

For Immediate Release

Contact: Phil Smith, 703-208-7241

Members of the United Mine Workers of America manned picket lines at three mines controlled by Foundation Coal Holdings at 12:01 am this morning as late-night negotiations failed to produce an agreement and an unfair labor practice strike began.
“This is a step that we sincerely hoped we did not have to take and worked hard to avoid,” said UMWA International President Cecil E. Roberts. “Unfortunately, the Foundation subsidiaries which operate these mines left us no choice. Their attempts to divide our membership and pit miner against miner and local union against local union drove us to this point.”
Over 1,200 UMWA members are on strike - 523 at the Cumberland mine and 473 at the Emerald mine, both near Waynesburg in southwestern Pennsylvania. 241 miners are on strike at the Wabash mine near Keensburg, Illinois.
Roberts said that the striking workers and their families would receive health care coverage and other strike benefits through the union’s $116 million strike fund. “We have sufficient resources to maintain this struggle for as long as it takes,” Roberts said. “Our members and their families are standing strong in the face of their employers’ unwillingness to recognize the hard work and sacrifices they have made to create Foundation’s huge profits over the last several years.
“This is no more true than at Wabash, where our members sacrificed about $30,000 each over the last five years to allow the company to expand operations there in an attempt to remain competitive,” Roberts said. “They’ve more than done their part on behalf of their company. But their employers responded with the back of their hand, wanting even more concessions and making veiled public threats to close the mine if they didn’t get them.
“We remain willing to discuss creative ways to deal with Wabash,” Roberts said. “But we will never get down on our knees and beg.
“Our members at the Pennsylvania mines have worked incredibly hard to make Foundation one of the most profitable coal companies in the United States,” Roberts said, noting that about 70 percent of Foundation Coal Holdings’ profits were generated by the Cumberland and Emerald mines. “Yet, their employers do not see fit to take even modest steps to reward the miners for their efforts.”
Roberts said that the UMWA remains willing to meet with the companies’ representatives to resolve the parties differences. “We did not want this strike in the first place, and we do not want it to go on longer than it has to,” Roberts said. “All we’re seeking is a collective bargaining agreement that’s fair, equitable and reasonable for our members and their families.”

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