UMWA members ratify new contract at Murray Energy


APRIL 9, 2020


[TRIANGLE, VA.] Members of the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) working at bankrupt Murray Energy yesterday ratified a new collective bargaining agreement by a 82% -18% vote. The company’s debtors, who will become the owners of the new company that emerges from the Chapter 11 bankruptcy process, have agreed to accept the new contract and abide by its terms and conditions.


“Ratification of this agreement means that all our members who are currently working at Murray Energy will be employed by the new company when it takes over, with no loss of seniority or job classification,” UMWA International President Cecil E. Roberts said. “Without the vital protection of a contract in place, there was no guarantee that they would be able to keep their jobs. But now their job rights have been protected.”


“This contract does not have any concessions,” Roberts said. “In fact, it makes improvements in several areas.”


Murray Energy and its successor will be relieved by the bankruptcy court of any obligation to pay for retiree health care and defined benefit pensions, due to America’s broken workers-last bankruptcy laws. However, more than 12,000 current and eligible future retirees, their dependents and widows will still receive those earned benefits as a result of the passage of the Bipartisan American Miners Act in December, 2019.


Hourly contributions to the workers’ 401(k) plans were substantially increased in the agreement. Miners will receive wage increases of $1.00 per hour over the life of the five-year agreement, and out-of-pocket health care costs were reduced by more than half.


“I commend our membership at Murray Energy for their courageous vote, and their willingness to work through the abnormal circumstances we had to contend with to even hold this ratification vote in the first place,” Roberts said. “We were able to hold the vote at the mines in a safe and healthy manner, which was our first priority in these difficult times.”