After strike, mine workers union pushes reform proposals before Warrior Met Coal stockholders


April 25, 2024

After strike, mine workers union pushes reform proposals before Warrior Met Coal stockholders

The United Mine Workers of America, along with the AFL-CIO, presented stockholders of Warrior Met Coal Thursday with a package of proposals it says would eliminate some of the conditions that resulted in Alabama’s longest strike.

Warrior Met Coal held its shareholders meeting today and voted on several measures. Results will be announced later.

UMWA International President Cecil Roberts told the meeting that, if the company had been able to maintain its pre-strike, pre-COVID production levels, it would have made $1.3 billion in additional revenue.

“As we meet here today, Warrior Met’s mine workers are 2,000 feet underground, performing skilled and dangerous labor, to provide for their families, their communities and the stockholders of the company,” Roberts said. “They deserve competitive wages and benefits for their hard work, and yet Warrior Met has still not reached an agreement with the mine workers.”

The UMWA’s members conducted a strike against Warrior Met between April 1, 2021, and February 16, 2023, when the union issued an unconditional return to work. The union and company are continuing to negotiate a new contract, after the old one expired three years ago.

Last year, an NLRB Administrative Law Judge found that Warrior Met had engaged in unfair labor practices in contract negotiations leading up to the strike.

The union estimates the company incurred a little less than $100 million in idle mine and business interruption expenses associated with the strike, all at a time when the price of metallurgical coal surged globally.

Among the proposed policies, all of which would be non-binding and advisory, are a requirement for stockholder approval of “golden parachutes” for executive severance, and an independent assessment of the company’s “respect” for workers’ rights and collective bargaining.

Other reforms include a policy requiring stockholder approval of “poison pill” provisions to discourage acquisitions, and stockholder approval of “blank check” preferred stock for antitakeover purposes. The policy would also include a “proxy access” bylaw provision.

The union says these provisions would keep executives from being insulated from the economic results of some decisions.

In February, the company’s board of directors adopted new limits on its executive severance benefits. However, Roberts said this measure is inadequate, as it applies only to cash severance.

“Let me be clear, no union ever wants to go on strike. Our members went on strike because we believe the company was not negotiating in good faith,” Roberts said. “We believe that Warrior Met will be a more successful company if it negotiates in good faith to reach a mutually beneficial collective bargaining agreement with the UMWA.”

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