The UMWA has represented coal miners in North America since its start in 1890. Today, the union’s membership works in underground mines throughout the United States and Canada.
Coal is a primary fuel source for generating electricity in the United States and Canada. Over 30% of the electricity in the United States is generated through burning coal. It is the least expensive, safest, and highest naturally occurring BTU source available for power generation in the world. Known coal reserves in the U.S. and Canada are estimated to have over 250 years of recoverable coal remaining.
With the efforts of the UMWA, coal mining has become a much safer job than it was in the past. However coal miners still face dangers and hardships at work that require a high degree of skill and training to overcome. Union mines have statistically less accidents and are safer than their non-union counterparts.
Currently, the coal industry is suffering from market forces and government climate regulations that have caused utilities to switch to alternative sources of fuel, such as cheap natural gas, to generate electricity. But low natural gas prices will not last forever. The UMWA believes the United States must take the lead in developing technologies that will allow us to use coal in a carbon-neutral way to power our nations for generations to come.