Collective Bargaining

The National Labor Relations Act, passed in 1935, gives you the right to bargain collectively with your employer through a UMWA-elected representative. The NLRA protects workplace democracy by providing employees at private-sector workplaces the fundamental right to seek better working conditions and designation of representation without fear of retaliation.

It is no secret that collective bargaining created the middle class in North America. Many benefits workers enjoy today, such as the eight-hour day, overtime pay, weekends, no child labor, health care, and retirement benefits were all first negotiated by labor unions. Indeed, most of those things were first negotiated by the UMWA.

Through collective bargaining, working people in unions have higher wages, better benefits, and safer workplaces. As a member of the UMWA, you have a voice on the job, no matter your race, politics, or ideology.

The contracts are enforced by the union to ensure the employer honors them. A contract is a legally binding document and is the only way to be sure that your pay and benefits will remain secure during the term of the agreement.

Whenever a contract is up for renewal the UMWA President will designate a Lead Negotiator. In consultation with local union leadership, the Lead Negotiator works with  UMWA International or District staff to negotiate a new contract with the employer.


When necessary, the Research and Contracts Department and the Legal Department advise and work on the negotiations as well. All UMWA-negotiated contracts are voted for and have to be approved by the membership.

The United Mine Workers of America is constantly undergoing negotiations with dozens of employers at any one time. It is the policy of the union to not publicly discuss negotiations. UMWA members vote for their District’s Elected Representatives. If you have a question about any ongoing negotiations or your current contract, contact your District office or the Research and Contracts Department at (703) 291-2415.