The United Mine Workers of America has represented miners of fine metals, minerals, and rock for over half a century. UMWA members who mine and/or process fine minerals, including feldspar, mica, quartz, and pearlite can be found across the country, from North Carolina to New Mexico.
Mineral miners work under many of the same hazards as coal miners, but also are unique because of the type of minerals they mine and the chemicals that are used in the mining and cleaning process. Members of L.U. 140 at Feldspar Corp., work with a variety of chemicals and reagents, including sodium sulfate and hydrofluoric acid.
The members of L.U. 3106 at Dicaperl Minerals mine a volcanic ash, used in a variety of materials including insulation and cat litter. “With the contract that we’ve got from the UMWA, it’s probably the best job in the county,” said L.U. President Manuel Anaya. “Our contract includes retirement and health care benefits. If it weren’t for the UMWA, we wouldn’t have any of it.”